Commons Speaker Demands Meeting With Mail On Sunday Editor Over "Misogynistic" Angela Rayner Story
Speaker Lindsay Hoyle said the comments were "demeaning" to women
Sir Lindsay Hoyle has criticised comments made to the Mail on Sunday about deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner for being "demeaning" and "offensive" to women, and demanded a meeting with the newspaper's editor.
Several senior MPs, including Prime Minister Boris Johnson, have expressed anger over anonymous comments briefed to the Mail on Sunday which claimed Angela Rayner had attempted to "distract" the Prime Minister during Commons debates.
The story, published in the Sunday newspaper, claimed the deputy Labour leader had intentionally crossed her legs during Prime Minister's Questions as part of a "ploy" to put off Johnson.
Following anger from MPs, Commons speaker Lindsay Hoyle said while he took the issued of media freedom "very seriously", he was now calling for a meeting with the Mail on Sunday's editor David Dillon to discuss the story. Chair of the press lobby Kitty Donaldson, who represents the media in parliament, is also invited to the meeting.
"I said to the House last week in response to a point of order about a different article that I took the issue of media freedom very seriously," he told MPs on Monday.
"It is one of the building blocks of our democracy. However, I share the view expressed by a wide number of members, including, I believe, the Prime Minister, that yesterday's article was reporting unsubstantiated claims which were misogynistic and offensive."
He added: "I want to express my sympathy to [Rayner] for the subject of this type of comment in being demeaning, offensive to women in Parlaiment and can only deter women who are considering standing for Parliament to the detriment of us all.
"I am arranging a meeting with the chair of the press lobby, and the editor of the Mail on Sunday to discuss the issue affecting our parliamentary community."
Speaking earlier, a Downing Street spokesperson said the Prime Minister believed the comments made by the anonymous Conservative MP were "unacceptable".
"We recognise clearly there is more work to do and the prime minister would support that. There is no space for misogyny...These comments are unacceptable," they said.
The Downing Street spokesperson said the PM would "absolutely" back MPs calling out colleagues making inappropriate comments, saying it was "part of the changing of culture".
But asked whether they would support the Mail on Sunday journalist from having the press pass, which offers them access to Westminster, revoked, they said: "I think the specific issue is one for the Speaker with regards to assess. We fully respect the independence of the media to report within the rules what they see fit to do."
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