"I thought everything was OK. No one accused me of being a sexist pig."

“Tim taught me as an undergraduate and I have known him for years,” she told the Observer. “It is quite clear to me that he is not a sexist in any way. I don’t know why he said those silly things, but the way his remarks have been taken up implies that women in science are having a horrible time. That is not the case. I, for one, am having a wonderful time.”

Hunt was also supported by Dame Athene Donald, professor of experimental physics at Cambridge, who described Hunt’s sacking from the ERC as hugely sad.

“During the time I worked with him he was always immensely supportive of the ERC’s work around gender equality. His off-the-cuff remarks in Korea are clearly inappropriate and indefensible, but … he has worked tirelessly in support of young scientists of both genders.”

Hunt is under no illusions about the consequences. “I am finished,” he says. “I had hoped to do a lot more to help promote science in this country and in Europe, but I cannot see how that can happen. I have become toxic. I have been hung to dry by academic institutes who have not even bothered to ask me for my side of affairs.”

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