'I feel like a victim,' says Winterton

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Indy Politics

Ann Winterton claimed yesterday that she felt like a "victim" after a dispute over a joke about the recent Chinese cocklers tragedy led to her being thrown out of the Parliamentary Conservative Party.

Mrs Winterton, 62, the MP for Congleton, insisted she had been quoted out of context and accused a Labour MP who quoted her remarks, made at a private dinner party, of acting out of "party political venom". Michael Howard, the Tory leader, withdrew the party whip from Mrs Winterton,after she refused to apologise for her joke about a shark "going to Morecambe for a Chinese". The move could prevent her standing as a Tory candidate at the next election.

In her first interview since the storm broke, Mrs Winterton told BBC Radio 4: "I don't believe I have anything to apologise for. If I did I would have to apologise for tens of thousands of people in this country who every week probably say things which, if reported, would cause some sort of furore." She said she told the joke as an example of e-mails that fly round the world. "It was told in the context of a conversation at the time ... I was repeating what I had read."

In a letter to Mr Howard, she said she was "deeply saddened" that offence may have been caused by the inaccurate reporting of her remarks.