Complaints have been raised after Tory MPs Nadine Dorries, Lucy Allan, and Maria Caulfield shared a doctored video about Keir Starmer online in an attempt to discredit the Labour leader.
Starmer’s success in holding the government to account and highlighting the Tory government’s deadly failure to manage the pandemic over the last two months has got Tory MPs worried. And instead of accepting responsibility for its failures, some Tory MPs have attempted to attack Starmer and discredit his past as Director of Public Prosecutions and Head of the Crown Prosecution Service, a position he held between 2008 and 2013.
In her attempt to defame Starmer, Conservative MP for Telford Lucy Allan shared a clip that she says “suggests a total failure to understand grooming, a dismissive attitude towards [child sexual exploitation]victims and a belief that the victims brought it on themselves.” However, if the MP had shared the whole Channel 5 News interview that the clip was edited from, she would have seen that he was explaining what had gone wrong in the investigation and prosecution of such cases, not what he intended to do. Specifically, he explained: “These guidelines are a recognition the approach that has been taken in the past was the wrong approach and was based on a number of assumptions that don’t withstand scrutiny.”
Starmer’s involvement in the prosecution of grooming gangs and sexual predators like Tory donor Jimmy Savile and has long been a talking point amongst far right supporters. They accuse him of failing to protect the young, but in reality he was key in advancing the rights of victims, as explained by Richard Scorer, one of the lawyer’s representing the victims in such cases. He said: “As one of the lawyers who represented Savile’s victims, I can confirm that attacks on Keir Starmer over this are totally unjustified. Starmer did more than any other DPP to advance rights of victims. No DPP can control every decision but CPS was much better under his leadership.”
Starmer became leader of the opposition last month, and in the Prime Minister’s Questions that have followed he has consistently shown himself to be on top of the detail and ready to hold the government to account. As the UK’s former top prosecutor, Starmer is an accomplished and forensic inquisitor, and his skills are increasingly showing up Prime Minister Boris Johnson as unprepared and incapable of answering specific direct questions about his leadership.
On Wednesday, Starmer skewered Boris over his failure to prevent thousands of deaths in Britain’s care homes, where the government’s official advice remained for weeks those in care homes were not at significant risk whilst the virus spread amongst staff and patients. Johnson was also unable to answer why the government stopped publishing comparisons of the UK infection and death rates with other nations around the world just as the UK overtook Italy to become the country worst affected by the coronavirus in Europe and with a death tally second only to the US.
UPDATE 13:00 – Maria Caulfield has deleted her Twitter account and both Nadine Dorries and Lucy Allan have deleted their tweets but none of the MPs have yet apologised for spreading misinformation from a far right source or defaming the Leader of the Opposition.