Having a laugh. But not doing an Irish Jig
There was more. ”He was taken into custody and has since been bailed pending further enquiries to a date in mid-June”. We have since been informed that the individual concerned was a Tory from the 2001 intake. Also, “The Conservatives confirmed on Tuesday that their chief whip had asked the MP to stay away from the parliamentary estate during the police inquiry”. This was clearly a serious matter for MPs. Well, most of them.
For Michael Fabricant, who represents the unfortunate voters of Lichfield, this appeared to be a less serious matter than for many outside Parliament. “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!” An arguably inappropriate emoji was added.
This was not well received. “I think you’ve probably got the message by now, but just in case … This Kenneth Williams Carry on Parliament-esque response to a rape allegation should never have seen the light of day … You should read your funny Tweet out to the victim … The fact that he thinks this is funny tells us all we need to know about him”.
And there was more. “Is this meant to be humorous? It fails on every level … Bloody hell mate, think about it eh? … Rape jokes. I’d say it’s a new low, but it’s more the new norm … Not sure joking about serious sexual assault is a good idea, Michael”.
The Tweeter known as the Laura Kuenssberg Translator noted “Tory MP Michael Fabricant has already made a joke on Twitter about his colleague being arrested for rape and sexual assault over a period of 7 years. This tells you exactly what the Tories think of rape and sexual assault. They think it's a laughing matter”. Some Labour MPs were unimpressed.
Chris Bryant simply responded “Seriously Michael take this down now. It shows callous disregard for the alleged victims, and it implies rape and sexual assault are a laughing matter. Take it down”. Deputy leader Angela Rayner added “Grotesque”. Meanwhile, more detail on the allegations was emerging, making Fabricant look even worse.
Gaby Hinsliff of the Guardian observed “Bleak detail about the MP rape arrest is that allegations reportedly first made in Jan 2020. Nearly two and a half years just to get to this (still quite early) stage in the process, & that's not even unusual”, while Kate Ferguson of the Murdoch Sun added “New on Tory MP arrested over allegation of rape: Tories will decide whether or not to suspend them from the whip (the parliamentary party) after the police investigation is finished”. They won’t suspend him. Because that would name him.
Only after all that did Fabricant yield and remove the offending Tweet, muttering “those who want to read something into a comment will contrive to do so whatever. They are professional offence takers”. Maybe stop causing that offence, then? Just a thought.
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