Michael Fabricant slammed for 'grotesque' remark making 'light' of Tory MP accused of rape
Michael Fabricant claimed only 'professional offence-takers' would take issue with his comment
A Tory MP has been branded "grotesque" and accused of having an "absolutely shameful disregard" for the alleged victims of a Conservative MP arrested on suspicion of rape, for suggesting there would be a "strong turnout" at PMQs Wednesday as MPs seek to "prove" they are not under investigation.
Michael Fabricant tweeted an hour before Prime Minister's Questions got underway, saying that Conservative MPs would attend "not only to demonstrate their strong support for Boris, but also to prove they are not the one told by the Chief Whip to stay home".
The post ended with, "I'll be there", followed by the winking face, tongue emoji.
The Conservatives’ chief whip Chris Heaton-Harris urged the accused MP to stay away from parliament on Tuesday - but has not yet suspended the whip, meaning the suspect remains a member of the parliamentary party.
On Tuesday it was revealed a Tory MP had been arrested on suspicion of rape and sexual assault offences over a seven-year period and was in custody. The MP, who is in his 50s, but has not been named, has since been released on bail to a date in mid-June pending further inquiries by the Met.
Tory Michael Fabricant says lots of MPs will be in the chamber today to prove they aren't the alleged rapist.
— PoliticsJOE (@PoliticsJOE_UK) May 18, 2022
Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner labelled Fabricant's tweet "grotesque", while shadow health secretary Wes Streeting warned "this isn't a joke".
Labour MP Charlotte Nichols said: "One of the grimmest things about working in Westminster is not just the regularity with which allegations of rape and sexual assault come up, but the fact people like Fabricant here trivialise these as a laughing matter or quirky bit of gossip complete with (the) emoji."
— Angela Rayner 🌹 (@AngelaRayner) May 18, 2022
'What is wrong with these people and how have we ended up being governed by them?'
James O'Brien's response to Michael Fabricant's use of the 😜 emoji in a tweet concerning a Tory MP arrested on suspicion of rape.@mrjamesob pic.twitter.com/NjtcuuhRoJ
— LBC (@LBC) May 18, 2022
Labour MP Chris Bryant slammed the tweet as "shameful" and suggested Fabricant take it down "immediately".
Fabricant replied that "no-one is making light of rape or assault" and suggested that only "professional offence-takers" would take issue with his comment.
This shows absolutely shameful disregard for the alleged victims. You should take this down immediately. https://t.co/6m1FAAHOke
— Chris Bryant (@RhonddaBryant) May 18, 2022
No-one is making light of rape or assault. Far from it. But those who want to read something into a comment will contrive to do so whatever. They are professional offence takers. https://t.co/mNcDPgAoR6
— Michael Fabricant 🇬🇧🇺🇦🌻 (@Mike_Fabricant) May 18, 2022
While Bryant was quick to criticise Fabricant, Twitter users were keen to point out that it appeared as though he had used the arrest as an opportunity to call out the Conservative Party.
In a now-deleted tweet, Bryant wrote that "crime week is going well for the Tories". He later clarified that the remark was in response to the government breaking international law.
— #NotJustCladdingScandal (@sacrebleurgh) May 18, 2022
Chris has deleted his tweet, and acknowledged how it could be interpreted https://t.co/TaP9sLYa4B
— Craig James (@CraigSJames) May 18, 2022
It was revealed Tuesday that the government intended to break international law by overriding an international Brexit treaty with the EU over Northern Ireland.
Fabricant has reportedly been spoken to by Tory whips about his tweet which the party deemed "inappropriate".
NEW: Michael Fabricant has been spoken to by Tory whips about this tweet, which party sources have called “inappropriate”. https://t.co/OOf3N8430o
— Kate McCann (@KateEMcCann) May 18, 2022
In an updated statement about the case involving the Tory MP, police said its investigation was "ongoing".
It said officers received a report about the MP in January 2020 relating to alleged sexual offences committed in London between 2002 and 2009.
It was understood the Tories will not make a decision on whether the suspect has the whip suspended until after the police investigation is concluded.
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said she was “very, very concerned” that a Tory colleague had been arrested – but would not be drawn on whether the whip should be removed.
Asked how she felt when she heard the news, she told Sky News: “I’m very, very concerned about the reports that I’ve heard. The police are currently working on the case but it is worrying that we are seeing these appalling ... accusations, again, about a parliamentarian.”
Asked if the MP should have the whip withdrawn, Truss said: “I don’t know who it is. I know that the police are looking at it and investigating it, and I think we need to wait for the police to conduct those investigations.”
The arrest comes amid renewed scrutiny of sleaze in Westminster following a string of cases, including that of former MP Imran Ahmad Khan.
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