Lichfield MP Michael Fabricant criticised for tweet about MP arrested after rape allegation

Michael Fabricant Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

The Conservative MP for Lichfield in Staffordshire has been accused of treating the arrest of a Tory colleague on allegations of rape and sexual assault as a 'laughing matter'.

Michael Fabricant tweeted that there would be a 'strong turnout' of Tories 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.

He defended the tweet after the Tory whips and a Cabinet minister criticised the “idiotic” remarks for making “light of a really serious situation”

He has since deleted the post.

A screenshot of Michael Fabricant’s since-deleted tweet Credit: PA

Scotland Yard has bailed the unnamed 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 said it was “grotesque”, while shadow health secretary Wes Streeting warned “this isn’t a joke”.

“Delete and stop bringing Parliament into (further) disrepute,” Mr Streeting added.

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).”

When asked if he stands by the tweet, Mr Fabricant said: “In no way was I making light of rape or any other assault.

“They disgust me.

“I was, however, commenting on the speculation as to who the MP might be.”