MP Roger Gale has defended employing his own wife during an embattled Radio 4 interview.
The 73-year-old MP for Thanet North also drew allegations of sexism after he referred to female staff in his office as ‘girls’.
Mr Gale was appearing on Radio 4’s Today programme to defend hiring his wife and funding her salary with taxpayers’ cash, after the Independent Parliamentary Standards Association (IPSA) announced plans to ban MPs from hiring family members.
He previously told Press Association that the move would be ‘damaging’.
He said: ‘It will be incredibly damaging if we go down this route. Superficially, this is an easy hit for anybody wanting to show they are doing something. Actually, it is crass and they will live to regret it – and so will the House and its MPs.’
But the interview saw him being accused of sexism when he referred to his ‘team of girls’ as he defended hiring wife Suzy – who has acted as his office director since he first entered parliament in 1983.
Slamming the politician, one enraged listener said: ‘Sir Roger Gale MP, I don’t care if you employ your well qualified wife, but calling your office staff “girls” is downright offensive.’
Another said: ‘Con MP Roger Gale on @BBCr4today must stop calling women working in his office ‘girls’. He’s either employing underage staff or needs advice.’
‘Highly irritated by @Conservatives MP Sir Roger Gale referring to women working in his office as ‘girls’ on @BBCRadio4 this morning’, one user added.
Con MP Roger Gale on @BBCr4today must stop calling women working in his office 'girls'. He's either employing underage staff or needs advice
— Charlie Lee-Potter (@cleepotter) March 16, 2017
— Georgia Evans (@gmayevans) March 16, 2017
Mr Gale’s comments came shortly after the Independent Parliamentary Standards Association (IPSA), announced a forthcoming ban on MPs employing spouses and other relatives using taxpayers money.
Chair Ruth Evans said: ‘We have decided to end funding for new employees who are related to MPs from the next general election onwards.
‘We believe that the employment of ‘connected parties’ is out of step with modern employment practice, which requires fair and open recruitment to encourage diversity in the workplace.’