Andrea Leadsom ‘disgusted’ by motherhood claim
Conservative leadership candidate Andrea Leadsom said she was “disgusted” by a claim that motherhood gave her an edge in the race to lead the party.
The Times quoted the Energy Minister as saying having children gives "a very real stake in the future of our country".
The mother of three later denied this in a tweet and claimed it was “the opposite of what she had said.
She also directly accused the Times and the article’s author, Rachel Sylvester of “the worst kind of gutter journalism”.
Earlier in the day, Mrs Leadsom’s rival for the top spot, Theresa May, had called for a “clean campaign” pledge.
The paper headlined its front-page lead story "Being a mother gives me edge on May - Leadsom."
In the article, Mrs Leadsom claims Theresa May must be “really sad” that she does not have children.
She added that Mrs May “possibly has nieces, nephews, lots of people. But I have children who are going to have children who will directly be a part of what happens next.”
Mrs May, 59, and her husband, Philip, were unable to have children and she hinted of their sadness in a recent interview.
In a later statement Mrs Leadsom said she was "beyond anger and disgust" at the newspaper's front page.
"The reporting of what I said is beneath contempt," she said.
"In front of the Times correspondent and photographer, I made clear repeatedly that nothing I said should be used in any way to suggest that Theresa May not having children had any bearing whatever on the leadership election.
"I expect the Times to retract the article and the accompanying headline."
The newspaper’s deputy editor, Emma Tucker, tweeted what she said was a transcript of the interview.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today Programme, the journalist behind the article, Rachel Sylvester, played a recording of the interview in which Mrs Leadsom clearly says having children gave her a "tangible" stake in Britain's future.
She admitted Mrs Leadsom had not used the word "edge" to describe the perceived advantage motherhood had given her over her rival, but felt the interview was faily written up.
Rachel Sylvester said the comments from the woman campaigning to be the next Prime Minister were "naive" rather than "malicious".
However, they also gave the journalist cause for concern over Mrs Leadsom's judgement.
Mrs May’s campaign team have declined to comment.