Jacob Rees-Mogg Apologises For Attack On Whistleblowing Doctor On LBC

6 September 2019, 07:28

Jacob Rees-Mogg has apologised to an NHS consultant for comparing him to a disgraced doctor who was widely blamed for the scare over the MMR jab.

The Leader of the Commons first disagreed with Dr David Nicholl over the impact of a no-deal Brexit, during a phone-in on LBC on Monday.

During Ring Rees-Mogg with Nick Ferrari on Monday, Dr Nicholl called in to say that he had written the medical section of the Operation Yellowhammer report into the effects of a no-deal Brexit, asking what level of mortality rate the MP would be happy with.

Jacob Rees-Mogg was involved in an unedifying row with Dr David Nicholl
Jacob Rees-Mogg was involved in an unedifying row with Dr David Nicholl. Picture: PA / LBC

Mr Rees-Mogg responded angrily, saying the doctor was guilty of scaremongering of the worst kind and said he should be ashamed.

That attack shocked one Tory MP - Dr Philip Lee - so much that he labelled it the final straw, deciding to defect to the Liberal Democrats.

Mr Rees-Mogg continued the attack on Dr Nicholl in the House of Commons yesterday. Speaking under Parliamentary Privilege, the Leader of the House compared him to Dr Andrew Wakefield, the disgraced anti-vaccine doctor.

Speaking to Eddie Mair on LBC afterwards, a shocked Dr Nicholl challenged him to repeat the claim outside parliament.

He said: "This is an attempt by a government minister to bully a whistle-blower, which is outrageous, and I challenge him to repeat that outside the House of Commons and if he will do, I’ll sue him."

Dame Sally Davies, the government's Chief Medical Officer, wrote to Mr Rees-Mogg to express her disappointment.

Late on Thursday, Mr Rees-Mogg finally relented from the pressure put on his by the medical community, issuing a statement which read: “I apologise to Dr Nicholl for the comparison with Dr Wakefield. I have the utmost respect for all of the country’s hardworking medical professionals and the work they do in caring for the people of this country.

“The government is working closely with the NHS, industry and distributors to help ensure the supply of medicine and medical products remains uninterrupted once we leave the EU on 31 October, whatever the circumstances.”

Afterwards, Nicholl tweeted that he accepted the apology: “Hopefully he will reflect on his choice of words better the next time. I would be grateful if he could address this in the [House of Commons], where his comments were first made.”