Michael Fabricant and his Twitter joke (Photo: Twitter and Getty)
Tory MP Michael Fabricant was slammed for making a “disgusting” joke after one of his colleagues was arrested on suspicion of rape.
The Conservative MP for Lichfield has come under fire after he appeared to make light of the arrest of a colleague.
The backbencher tweeted: “I am expecting a strong turnout of Conservative MPs at Prime Minister’s Questions today.
“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!”
He signed off the message with a winking face emoji, sparking one social media user to comment: “What a disgusting tweet.”
As part of the tweet he also shared a link to a story in The Telegraph which had the headline: “Tory MP arrested on suspicion of rape.”
A cabinet minister described the comment as “idiotic” when confronted with Fabricant’s tweet on BBC’s Politics Live show.
“I think 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,” Welsh Secretary Simon Hart said.
"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"
Welsh Secretary Simon Hart responds to Conservative Michael Fabricant's tweet on MP accused of rape#PoliticsLivehttps://t.co/YgwN0ipbBmpic.twitter.com/9QK67Swv6v
— BBC Politics (@BBCPolitics) May 18, 2022
Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting said: “This isn’t a joke. It isn’t funny. Delete and stop bringing parliament into (further) disrepute.”
Labour MP for Warrington North Charlotte Nichols hit back: “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 emoji.”
MP Sarah Owen added: “What a moronic and highly insensitive to say, but sadly unsurprising from Fabricant and Tories like him.”
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
Former Labour MP Paula Sherriff added: “This is, at best, highly inappropriate and at worst, sick and frankly, depraved.
“What sort of person pokes fun out of allegations of serious sexual assault and misconduct in public office? You’re supposed to set an example, be a role model… for god’s sake, start acting like one.”
Another social media user drily added: “Ha ha, Tories enjoying a good laugh over the fact one of their number is facing rape accusations.”
One Twitter user added: “His colleague being arrested and accused of rape and sexual assault offences spanning seven years is all a big joke to Michael apparently.”
Following the backlash, Fabricant told HuffPost UK: “In no way was I making light of rape or any other assault. They disgust me.
“I was, however, commenting on the speculation as to who the MP might be.”
It comes after a Conservative MP was arrested on suspicion of rape and sexual assault offences.
The MP in his 50s, who has not been named, has been released on bail to a date in mid-June, pending further inquiries.
Scotland Yard said the man was detained on suspicion of rape and sexual assault offences spanning seven years. He has also been accused of indecent assault, abuse of position of trust and misconduct in public office.
In no way was I making light of rape or any other assault. They disgust me. I was, however, commenting on the speculation as to who the MP might be.Fabricant told HuffPost UK
Earlier today, foreign secretary Liz Truss described the accusations as “appalling” but repeatedly swerved questions over whether the individual should keep the whip.
Tory chief whip Chris Heaton-Harris has urged the MP to stay away from parliament but has not suspended the whip, meaning the suspect remains a member of the parliamentary party.
It is understood the Conservatives will not make a decision on whether he has the whip suspended until after the police investigation is concluded.
The Met Police said officers received a report in January 2020 relating to alleged sexual offences committed in London between 2002 and 2009.
The investigation is ongoing, led by officers from the Met’s central specialist crime team.
The arrest comes amid renewed scrutiny of sleaze in Westminster following a string of cases.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.