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Fabricant denies 'making light of rape' after posting emoji tweet about rape arrest MP
18 May 2022, 12:32 | Updated: 18 May 2022, 12:46
Michael Fabricant is facing a backlash after he posted a tweet "joking" that he will attended Prime Minister's Questions today to "prove" he is not the Tory MP who was arrested on suspicion of rape and sexual assault offences.
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The MP for Lichfield, made the "inappropriate" comment on his social media account where he wrote: "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," followed by the 'crazy face' emoji.
The post was met with widespread criticism from colleagues and the public, with Labour MP Chris Bryant writing: "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."
But the Conservative MP defended his tweet by writing: "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."
Mr Fabricant has been spoken to by Tory whips about the tweet, which party sources have called "inappropriate".
Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner labelled Mr Fabricant's tweet "grotesque", while shadow health secretary Wes Streeting warned "this isn't a joke".
According to the Emojipedia website, the symbol used is also known as "crazy face" and "often conveys a sense of fun, excitement, wackiness, buffoonery, or joking".
Fellow Labour MP Charlotte Nichols said: "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 (the) emoji."
Ahead on PMQ's speaker of the house Sir Lindsay Hoyle discouraged MPs from attempting to name the Tory MP at the centre of the allegations.
He told the Commons: "The House will know that a member has been arrested in connection with an investigation into an allegation of very serious criminal offences.
"I understand that the member has confirmed he will not attend the House of Commons while the investigation is ongoing.
"I, the House of Commons Commission and the House service take the safety of our staff and parliamentary community as a whole very seriously and are ensuring any necessary measures are taken in respect of MPs, employees and staff."
Adding: "While the investigation is ongoing I believe that it'd be wholly inappropriate for any further reference to be made to this matter in the House, including any attempt to name the member concerned.
"I'd appreciate your cooperation on this matter."
He previously told LBC that he will clean up the House adding that he will "protect the people who've worked in that house and making sure that their futures can continue".
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. https://t.co/mNcDPgAoR6— Michael Fabricant 🇬🇧🇺🇦 (@Mike_Fabricant) May 18, 2022
Scotland Yard said in an updated statement: "In January 2020, the Met received a report relating to alleged sexual offences having been committed between 2002 and 2009."The offences are alleged to have occurred in London.
"An investigation is ongoing, led by officers from Central Specialist Crime."
A man, aged in his 50s, was arrested on suspicion of indecent assault, sexual assault, rape, abuse of position of trust and misconduct in public office.
"He was taken into custody and has since been bailed pending further enquiries to a date in mid-June."
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss told LBC this morning she was "very, very concerned" at the reports.
The Conservatives have been rocked by a series of scandals in recent months, prompting renewed scrutiny of sleaze in Westminster.
Earlier in May Neil Parish formally resigned as MP for Tiverton and Honiton after admitting watching porn twice in the Commons in a "moment of madness".
Last month International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan revealed she has been at the "sharp-end of misogyny" by some of her male colleagues, "many times over".
She told LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast she was pinned against a wall by a male MP "many years ago" - and the politician involved is no longer in Parliament.
"Well, we might describe it as wandering hands, if you like, we might describe it as a number of years ago being pinned up against a wall by a male MP who is now no longer in the House, I'm pleased to say, declaring that I must want him because he was a powerful man," she told Nick.
Ms Trevelyan said she has experienced "wandering hands" from "half a dozen" male colleagues during her time in Parliament, some of whom were "repeat offenders".
She added these "power abuses by a small minority" of male colleagues are "completely unacceptable".
In April, former Tory MP Imran Ahmad Khan resigned from his post as Wakefield MP after being convicted of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy.
Just weeks before that, fellow Tory MP David Warburton had the Conservative whip withdrawn after allegations of sexual harassment were made to the Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme.
Over the last year, about 15 MPs are expected to have been investigated by Parliament's ICGS - set up in the aftermath of the #MeToo scandal - that examines allegations of bullying, harassment or sexual misconduct.