John Humphrys under fire for making light of Westminster sexual harassment allegations with dating question

BBC stalwart interviews Lord Hague on Radio 4's Today programme about 'witch hunt' climate and wonders whether MPs are now afraid to ask people out on dates

Arj Singh
Wednesday 01 November 2017 11:09 GMT

BBC radio host John Humphrys has been criticised for asking if Westminster sexual misconduct allegations risk making people nervous about asking someone on a date.

The Radio 4 Today programme host asked former Tory leader Lord Hague if there was a “witch hunt” under way involving allegations against MPs and whether there was a “danger” that people may become afraid to ask someone out.

Lord Hague met his wife Ffion in 1995 while he was Welsh secretary and she was a civil servant working at his department.

During the interview, Humphrys asked the peer: “Is there a danger that we could go too far in the other direction and people will be afraid to ask somebody else out for the evening, or indeed ask them out for a proper date, maybe even eventually to marry them or something?

“There are risks in this aren't there?”

Lord Hague replied: “I don't think we've reached that point, I think there is a real problem here that needs to be dealt with.”

The presenter then came back, saying: “We're heading in that direction, aren't we, where, seriously, where MPs would be terribly nervous about it - an unmarried MP asking an unmarried assistant for a date.”

Lord Hague replied: “Many people, including me, have met their life-long partner at work.”

Humphrys replied: “Exactly.”

Lord Hague said he was right to raise the issue but refused to say there was a risk of MPs becoming afraid to ask people out.

Following the interview, Labour MP Sarah Jones described it as “unbelievable pointless questioning” while retweeting Bloomberg political correspondent Robert Hutton's comment: “No, BBCr4today, we're really not heading in a direction where people will be afraid to ask people on dates or to get married.”

Labour former shadow cabinet minister Kerry McCarthy wrote “seconded” while retweeting Guardian columnist Gaby Hinsliff, who said: “I don't think I want to hear John Humphrys doing any more interviews on stuff like sexual harassment, thanks”.

And Women's Equality Party leader Sophie Walker said: “John Humphrys:do an interview on sex harassment without using the words ”witch hunt“ or ”gone too far.“ You are part of the problem”.


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