Michael Fabricant criticised for ‘making light’ of MP rape allegations

·3-min read
Conservative MP Michael Fabricant was facing criticism (PA Archive)
Conservative MP Michael Fabricant was facing criticism (PA Archive)

A Tory MP has been criticised for “making light” of rape allegations against a Conservative colleague.

Michael Fabricant appeared to joke about the unnamed man in his 50s who was detained over accusations of rape and sexual assault offences as well as abuse of position of trust and misconduct in public office.

The Conservative chief whip has asked the MP, who has been bailed until a date in mid-June, not to attend Parliament while the police investigation is ongoing.

Ahead of Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday, Mr Fabricant tweeted that he was expecting the Tory benches in the House of Commons to be packed as politicians seek to show the public they are not the MP who has been told to stay away.

He accompanied the message with a winky face emoji and a link to a news story about the arrest.

The Litchfield MP accused those criticsing his comments as "professional offence taker".

“I am expecting a strong turnout of Conservative MPs at Prime Minister's Questions today,” he tweeted.

“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 at home. I'll be there!”

Speaking about the tweet later on GB News, Mr Fabricant admitted it was a mistake and said he liked to “mix in serious politics with humour”.

He told Darren McCaffrey: "In hindsight I shouldn’t have done it but... I like to mix in serious politics with a little bit of humour."

It comes after Welsh Secretary Simon Hart told the BBC: "It's idiotic, it's insensitive, and it attempts to make light of a really serious situation.

"I despair when I read stuff like that."

Labour’s Chris Bryant was also among those criticising Mr Fabricant an accused him of showing a “callous disregard” for victims.

“Seriously Michael take this down now,” said the Rhondda MP.

“It shows callous disregard for the alleged victims, and it implies rape and sexual assault are a laughing matter. Take it down.”

Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner said it was “grotesque”, while shadow health secretary Wes Streeting warned “this isn’t a joke”.

Mr Fabricant said: " 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."

The arrest comes amid renewed scrutiny of MPs’ behaviour following a number of incidents.

Earlier this month Imran Ahmad Khan resigned his Wakefield seat when he was found guilty of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy.

He was defended by fellow Tory MP Crispin Blunt, who later announced his intention to stand down at the next election.

Neil Parish quit as MP for Tiverton and Honiton after admitting to twice watching porn in the House of Commons chamber last month. A by-election will be held on June 23.

Earlier this year David Warburton was suspended from the Tory party over sexual harassment and drug abuse allegations, reported by the Sunday Times.

Following reports of sexual misconduct by MPs several years ago, the Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme (ICGS) was set up in Parliament.

More than 55 MPs have now reportedly been referred to the watchdog.

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