Anger after Tory was accused of joking over MP rape allegations
A British Conservative MP has been accused of treating the arrest of a Tory colleague over allegations of rape and sexual assault as a “laughing affair”.
Ichael Fabricant tweeted that a “heavy turnout” from Tories would attend the Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday to prove they are not the unknown man who was told to stay away from Parliament.
“I’ll be there!” Mr Fabricant added, followed by the “Winking Face with Tongue” emoji.
He defended the tweet after it was slammed by Tory whips and a cabinet minister who criticized the “idiotic” comments for “taking a really serious situation lightly,” but subsequently deleted the post.
Scotland Yard has released the unnamed MP, aged over 50, on bail pending further inquiries into a range of allegations including indecent assault, abuse of trust and misconduct in public office.
Tory chief whip Chris Heaton-Harris urged the MP to stay away from Parliament but has not suspended the whip, meaning the suspect remains a member of Parliament’s group.
Welsh Minister Simon Hart criticized Mr Fabricant’s tweet to the BBC politics live: “It’s idiotic, it’s insensitive, and it’s trying to downplay a really serious situation. I despair when I read something like that.”
Labor Deputy Leader Angela Rayner said it was “grotesque”, while Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting warned “this is no joke”.
“Delete and stop (further) discrediting Parliament,” Mr Streeting added.
Chris Bryant, Chair of the Commons Standards Committee, replied: “This shows an absolutely shameful disregard for the alleged victims. You should dismantle this immediately.”
Charlotte Nichols, MP for the Labor Party, said: “One of the darkest things about working in Westminster is not just the regularity with which allegations of rape and sexual assault come up, but the fact that people like Fabricant treat them as a ridiculous matter or a quirky little trivia gossip complete with emoji.”
The Conservative Party has refused to name the MP charged with sex offenses in London between 2002 and 2009.
There are clear legal issues in identifying the suspect, but keeping him anonymous will direct suspicion to other MPs who will not face accusations.
Mr Fabricant, who has been MP for Lichfield in Staffordshire since 1992, tweeted: “I expect a strong turnout from Conservative MPs for the Prime Minister’s Questions today.
“Not just to show their strong support for #Boris (!!). But also to prove they are not the ones ordered to stay home by the Chief Whip. I’ll be there! [winking face with tongue emoji].”
According to the Emojipedia website, the symbol used is also known as “crazy face” and “often conveys a sense of fun, excitement, weirdness, buffoonery, or banter.”
The Tory whips spoke to Mr Fabricant about his comments, with Conservative sources branding them “inappropriate”.
Asked by the PA news agency if he stood by the tweet, Mr Fabricant said: “I have in no way taken rape or any other form of assault lightly.
“You disgust me. However, I have commented on the speculation as to who the MP might be.”
However, he went on to delete the tweet.
It’s not the first time in recent weeks that a Conservative MP has been criticized for his response to a colleague accused of sex crimes.
Reigate MP Crispin Blunt, who has since announced he will stand down at the next election, apologized last month for the “significant uproar and concern” caused by his defense of fellow Conservative Imran Ahmad Khan following his conviction for sexually assaulting a teenager was caused.
https://www.independent.ie/world-news/europe/britain/anger-after-tory-accused-of-joking-about-mp-rape-claims-41664999.html Anger after Tory was accused of joking over MP rape allegations