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18 December 2017, 15:49
An unexpected online argument has erupted between Ralf Little and Jeremy Hunt, who also accused Stephen Hawking of "pernicious falsehood," over the UK's mental health provision.
Jeremy Hunt has found himself embroiled in an unusual Twitter spat with Ralf Little and Stephen Hawking.
The comedy actor instigated the row with the Health Secretary by accusing him of "knowingly lying" on the Andrew Marr show over the state of NHS mental healthcare, an allegation he has since retracted.
Still, it was enough to ensnare Hunt. Little even went as far to dare the Cabinet minister to sue him, if he was being honest with the statistics presented to the public.
The actor, who has starred in The Royle Family and Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps, was in esteemed company too. Stephen Hawking said he was concerned Hunt was cherrypicking statistics and potentially placing the NHS under threat as a result.
The health secretary in turn accused the the theoretical physicist, who has received America's highest civilian honour the Presidential Medal of Freedom, of "pernicious falsehood."
Little told James O'Brien he couldn't believe the Tory had tried to dispute Hawking's cherrypicking claim: "Literally, his job is to analyse evidence and use that to theorise the most extraordinary things that most of us can't comprehend.
"If anyone knows what cherrypicking statistics is, and how evidence works, it's Stephen Hawking. If he's telling you you're getting it wrong, you listen. Surely?"
Last month Jeremy Hunt had to retract a claim to parliament about increasing the number of mental health workers by 30,000 - 43 times the actual figure.
Hunt double dared Little back, citing three statistics alleged to support his case that Britain has seen the "biggest expansion of mental health provision in Europe."
4,300 more employed by mental health trusts, 2,700 more employed in talking therapies, 1400 more people treated every day since 2010. Isn’t it ur job 2 find a major European country that’s done better and faster rather than make assertions you can’t support? I double dare you— Jeremy Hunt (@Jeremy_Hunt) November 8, 2017
What followed was a 40 tweet rebuttal thread, featuring statistics from the independent fact-checking charity Full Fact. Little told James he debunked two of Hunt's claims and actually bolstered one, the health secretary having undersold his achievement.
It has been shared more than 20,000 times.
So if statistics and facts aren’t your thing and you only follow me for the silly jokes - look away now. But if you care about accountability and the NHS, read and RT this THREAD written in reply to @Jeremy_Hunt 👇👇👇— Ralf Little (@RalfLittle) November 13, 2017
All his since gone quiet on the www front.
During his LBC interview Little said he would be happy to debate Hunt, the objective being transparency rather than adversarial confrontation. He felt the health secretary was, despite having previously accepted an invite, using a semantic argument to avoid it.
James O'Brien joked that the actor could fill in for Hawking, "hold my beer."
He even offered his studio to host the argumentative duo, a team of fact checkers and a group of junior doctors.
"It's HD ready, go viral all the time these days."
Watch the hilarious interview above.