Michael Fabricant shamed for using ‘winking emoji’ in tweet about rape

Michael Fabricant slammed by O'Brien over use of emoji in tweet

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The LBC host was incredulous as he described the “shock” of Lichfield MP Michael Fabricant’s “unsuitable” tweet in which he used a winking emoji with a tongue hanging out while discussing rape allegations made against another MP. Mr O’Brien asked “what is wrong with these people” as he recalled a number of scandals that have plagued the Conservative Party over the past couple of weeks. 

He said: “As if multiple allegations of serious sexual offences including rape are suitable territory for a winking emoji with a tongue hanging out. 

“You know me, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: They can still shock me, these people. 

“They can still shock me, even after all this time, and it’s Michael Fabricant’s turn today. 

“[He’s] not even addressing the cost of living crisis by suggesting you get a better paid job or eat valued food or take some cookery lessons. 

“But addressing serious sexual offences. What is wrong with these people and how have we ended up being governed by them?” 

Conservative MP Michael Fabricant was accused of treating as a “laughing matter” the arrest of a Tory colleague on allegations of rape and sexual assault offences. 

The long-standing MP tweeted that there would be a “strong turnout” of Tories attending PMQs today to prove they are not the unidentified man told to stay away from Parliament.

“I’ll be there!” Mr Fabricant added, followed by the “winking face with tongue” emoji.

The MP received a dressing down by the Tory whips and a Cabinet minister criticised the “idiotic” remarks for making “light of a really serious situation”. 

Mr Fabricant reportedly defended the tweet but subsequently deleted the post.

Welsh secretary Simon Hart criticised Mr Fabricant’s tweet, telling BBC Politics Live: “It’s idiotic, it’s insensitive, and it attempts to make light of a really serious situation.”

He added: “I despair when I read stuff like that.”

Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner said it was “grotesque”, while shadow health secretary Wes Streeting warned “this isn’t a joke”.

He added: “Delete and stop bringing Parliament into (further) disrepute.” 

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Chris Bryant, who chairs the Commons Standards Committee, said: “This shows absolutely shameful disregard for the alleged victims. You should take this down immediately.”

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.”

Scotland Yard has bailed the unnamed MP in his 50s pending further investigation into a string of allegations also including indecent assault, abuse of position of trust and misconduct in public office.

Tory chief whip Chris Heaton-Harris urged the MP to stay away from Parliament but has not suspended the whip, meaning the suspect remains a member of the parliamentary party

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