WATCH Boris Johnson labelled 'disgrace' for pocketing reporter’s phone when asked to look at image of sick toddler

Posted On: 
9th December 2019

Boris Johnson was labelled a “disgrace” for pocketing a reporter’s phone when he was asked to look at the image of a sick toddler lying on the floor of a hospital because there were not enough beds.

Boris Johnson was accused by ITV's Joe Pike of stealing his phone during an interview
Credit: 
ITV News

The Prime Minister was accused of not caring about the plight of four-year-old Jack Williment-Barr, whose mother was forced to cover with him coats to keep warm while he waited to be seen at Leeds General Infirmary A&E department.

Sarah Williment said it was “chaos”, and her son, who has suspected pneumonia, then had to wait for five hours on a trolley before a bed was found.  

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Mr Johnson was confronted about the incident while on the campaign trail by ITV political correspondent Joe Pike, who showed him a picture of the boy on his phone.

He initially refused to look at the picture before apparently taking the phone and putting it in his pocket.

After Mr Pike asked why he had done so, the PM returned the device and looked at the picture.

He said: "It's a terrible, terrible photo and I apologise obviously to the family and those who have terrible experiences in the NHS.

"What we are doing is supporting the NHS and on the whole, I think patients in the NHS have a much, much better experience than this poor kid has had."

Mr Johnson added that he was sorry to have taken the phone, but Labour have attacked him over the incident.

Posting the exchange on Twitter, Jeremy Corbyn said of the PM: “He just doesn't care.”

But a Tory source insisted Mr Johnson did not "grab" the phone, and that he took it from the journalist when it was offered to him.

And he said the PM did look at it before he put it into his pocket, and addressed the image in the interview.

Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: "Refusing to even look at an image of a child suffering because of Conservative cuts to the NHS is a new low for Boris Johnson. It’s clear he could not care less.

"Don’t give this disgrace of a man five more years of driving our NHS into the ground. Sick toddlers like Jack deserve so much better."

Liberal Democrat welfare spokesperson Tim Farron said: "This is the moment the mask slipped.  When confronted with the human impact of his government's failure to properly fund our NHS, Boris Johnson chose to look away.

"This shocking lack of empathy shows why Johnson is not fit be prime minister. He simply doesn't care about patients or their families being catastrophically let down by this Conservative government."