The long-standing Conservative included the ‘winking face with tongue emoji’.
18 May 2022
Conservative MP Michael Fabricant has been accused of treating the arrest of a Tory colleague on allegations of rape and sexual assault offences as a “laughing matter”.
The long-standing MP tweeted that he and other Tories would be attending Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday to prove they are not the unidentified man told to stay away from Parliament.
“I’ll be there!” Mr Fabricant added, followed by the “winking face with tongue emoji”.
Scotland Yard has bailed the MP in his 50s pending further investigation into a string of allegations also including indecent assault, abuse of position of trust and misconduct in public office.
Tory chief whip Chris Heaton-Harris urged the MP to stay away from Parliament but has not suspended the whip, meaning the suspect remains a member of the parliamentary party.
Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner labelled Mr Fabricant’s tweet “grotesque”.
Chris Bryant, who chairs the Commons Standards Committee, responded: “This shows absolutely shameful disregard for the alleged victims. You should take this down immediately.”
Fellow Labour MP Charlotte Nichols said: “One of the grimmest things about working in Westminster is not just the regularity with which allegations of rape and sexual assault come up, but the fact people like Fabricant here trivialise these as a laughing matter or quirky bit of gossip complete with (the) emoji.”
The Conservative Party has refused to name the MP facing allegations of sexual offences committed in London between 2002 and 2009.
There are clear legal issues with identifying the suspect, but keeping him anonymous will cast suspicion over other MPs who are not facing any allegations.
Mr Fabricant, who has served as the MP for Lichfield in Staffordshire since 1992, had tweeted: “I am expecting a strong turnout of Conservative MPs at Prime Minister’s Questions today.
“Not only to demonstrate their strong support for #Boris (!!). BUT also to prove they are NOT the one told by the Chief Whip to stay at home. I’ll be there! (winking face with tongue emoji).”
According to the Emojipedia website, the symbol used is also known as “crazy face” and “often conveys a sense of fun, excitement, wackiness, buffoonery, or joking”.