10/06/2015 08:28 BST | Updated 10/06/2015 11:59 BST

Sir Tim Hunt Apologises Over 'Sexist Comments', But Says He Was Just Trying To Be Honest

A Nobel prize-winning scientist has been forced to apologise for saying female colleagues "fall in love" in the workplace and "cry" when criticised.

Sir Tim Hunt, a Cambridge PhD graduate, has come under fire for telling a group of Korean scientists that women distract men from work and should be in same-sex laboratories.

"Three things happen when they are in the lab, you fall in love with them, they fall in love with you, and when you criticise them they cry," he said.

The 72-year-old also admitted to the audience that he was a "chauvinist pig".

In an interview with the BBC on Wednesday morning, Sir Tim apologised in part, saying “I did mean the part about having trouble with girls... it’s terribly disruptive to the science".

He continued: "It is true that I have fallen in love with people in the lab and people in the lab have fallen in love with me, and it's very disruptive to the science.

"Because it's terribly important that in the lab people are on a level playing field and I found that these emotional entanglements made life difficult.

"I mean I'm really really sorry, I didn't mean to cause any offence - that's awful. I just meant to be honest."

sir tim hunt

Sir Tim made the original comments at a conference in South Korea

But the Nobel prize-winner earned little praise for his climbdown on Twitter.

The Royal Society, of which Sir Tim is a Fellow, sought to distance themselves from his comments on Tuesday.

In a statement it said: "The Royal Society believes that in order to achieve everything that it can, science needs to make the best use of the research capabilities of the entire population.

"Too many talented individuals do not fulfill their scientific potential because of issues such as gender and the Society is committed to helping to put this right.

"Sir Tim Hunt was speaking as an individual and his reported comments in no way reflect the views of the Royal Society."

Sir Tim was awarded the Nobel prize for physiology or medicine alongside colleagues Lee Hartwell and Paul Nurse for discovering "key regulators of the cell cycle" in 2001.