David Cameron apologised to Alan Titchmarsh for 'muppet' jibe in tree disease row

TV gardener sent letter apologising for Environment Secretary's remark

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The Independent Online

David Cameron apologised to Alan Titchmarsh after one of his Cabinet ministers called the TV gardener a “complete muppet”.

The chat-show host received a personal letter from the Prime Minister after being insulted by Owen Paterson, the Environment Secretary, in a row over ash dieback, a tree disease, in 2012.

When quizzed about the contents of the letter, Mr Titchmarsh told The Daily Telegraph: “He apologised for things that were said out of turn”, adding that the Prime Minister’s gesture was “incredibly big-hearted and generous”.

Mr Paterson made the remark after Mr Titchmarsh said the official response to ash dieback would have “minimal effect”, and that advice to wash boots, dogs and children after visiting woodland was akin to “sticking a plaster on a broken leg”.

And although the TV gardener branded the Environment Secretary “naïve” in an interview with The Daily Telegraph, the pair are said to have made amends over a lunch at the politician’s home.

“He very kindly invited me for lunch at his London house,” Mr Tichmarsh said. “We discovered – which I think shocked him – that in 95 per cent of matters we were in complete agreement”.