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19th Mar 2021

Downing Street condemns Jacob Rees-Mogg over use of parliamentary privilege to attack journalist

Danny Jones

The slap on the wrist comes after Rees-Mogg referred to a journalist as a ‘knave or a fool’

Jacob Rees-Mogg’s conduct in the Commons has been condemned by a spokesperson for the prime minister after he appeared to disrepute and slander a journalist.

Arj Singh of the Huffington Post had released audio of the Foreign Secretary, which Rees-Mogg described as “shockingly distorted by low-quality journalism”.

He can be heard speaking in the video below, where he accuses Singh of trying to”cheat” and manipulate the audio, before later suggesting he was a “knave or a fool”.

Responding to the comments, a Downing Street spokesperson said: “these are not comments that the prime minister would have made”.

As Paul Waugh says in his daily politics briefing for the Huggington Post, “Jacob Rees-Mogg disgraced himself by attacking my colleague Arj Singh in the Commons for committing the journalistic crime of reporting the words that came out of a minister’s mouth.”

Singh has since taken to Twitter to share the audio in question, encouraging his followers to make their own judgement as to whether or not it had been distorted.

“Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg has just told MPs that Dominic Raab’s own comments which came out of his own mouth and were recorded on tape were “shockingly distorted by low quality journalism” by me.

“Judge for yourself…”

Raab can be heard speaking about the need to “trade with countries that lacked ECHR-level standards of human rights” in audio.  There appears to be little in the way of distortion, and is merely an audio clip from a longer taping.

Rees-Mogg’s claim was that because the clip doesn’t play in its entirety, it negates what is said.

Despite Boris Johnson’s spokesperson elaborating that “the PM is a staunch believer in the free press and the important role that journalists play in our democracy”, his reaction to Rees-Mogg’s comments will be seen as a slap to the wrist of the House of Commons Leader.