Michael Fabricant Twitter row: David Cameron stands by Tory MP who said he would punch journalist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown 'in the throat'
The Conservative MP has since been called upon to resign
David Cameron has stood by the Tory MP who tweeted that he might want to hit a woman for expressing opinions he did not like.
Michael Fabricant, a former Conservative Party vice-chairman, posted the tweet after watching the newspaper columnist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown take part in a heated studio debate. He wrote that if he ever appeared on television with her, he might want to “punch her in the throat.”
Initially, the MP reacted to the outrage caused by his tweet by treating it as a joke. When a television crew appeared at his door, he boasted: “This is the first time I've ever been doorstepped! I feel like a star!”
But after being warned by Downing Street that he should apologise, Mr Fabricant posted a more serious apology on Twitter, saying that he was “very sorry,” that it was wrong to “joke” about punching someone and “I completely withdraw and apologise.”
This was enough for David Cameron to hope that the controversy would die down quickly.
The Prime Minister told LBC: “The action that needed to be taken was a swift retraction and a full apology and now that retraction and apology have been properly delivered, I think further action isn't necessary. But no-one should be in any doubt that it's just not an acceptable thing to say. Michael Fabricant knows that that is my view and I don't want to see this happen again.“
Speaking on Sky television, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown said that the MP’s tweet had been picked up by others as their cue to threaten her.
“I have just had a huge number of emails and texts from people saying ‘Yes, he; s right: I’d want to do this to you, I’d want to punch your face’. I can read them to you,” she said.
“He has now given permission for men who want to do this, and I get it every day of my life. I’ve had police protection because of the threats I have had. It’s not a joke.”
“For Michael Fabricant - and I have to say quite a lot of people in the Tory party and probably some Ukip voters - it is just unacceptable to have an assertive woman, and a woman of colour, actually speaking out.”
She also contrasted the lenient treatment of Mr Fabricant, a long serving MP and former party whip, with the case of the Birmingham Tory councillor Gareth Compton, who posted a tweet in 2010 saying “Can somebody please stone Yasmin Alibhai-Brown to death?” He was suspended from the party and arrested. In that case the Tory party’s reaction was “very effective” Ms Alibhai-Brown said. She added that it would “give a very bad message” in Mr Fabricant’s case they accepted “a really not very serious apology.”
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