Telford MP criticised for fake news over Starmer re-tweets
Telford MP Lucy Allan has been accused of spreading "fake news" after sharing a video suggesting Sir Keir Starmer had been reluctant to prosecute grooming gangs when he was director of public prosecutions.
Mrs Allan, health minister Nadine Dorries and fellow Conservative MP Maria Caulfield re-tweeted the clip of a 2013 interview with the Labour leader in which he appeared to be listing a series of reasons for not bringing charges – including if the alleged victims had been in trouble with the police.
Ms Dorries had included the comment "revealing", while Mrs Allan added: "This .....suggests a total failure to understand grooming, a dismissive attitude towards #CSE victims and a belief that the victims brought it on themselves".
All three MPs subsequently deleted the tweets and have been spoken to by the Conservative whips' office.
Labour said the video had clearly been "doctored" and that he was actually explaining the flaws in previous guidance to prosecutors which he had withdrawn and replaced.
In response to the post by Ms Dorries, MP for Mid Bedfordshire, Labour's Wes Streeting replied: "What's revealing is that: 1. You've spread fake news and indulged a smear being promoted by the far right. 2.
"You had time to do this despite being a minister in the Department of Health during a public health crisis.
"It's either malevolence or stupidity. Probably both."
The former senior prosecutor Nazir Afzal, who was involved in bringing a number of cases, said the clip was being used to suggest Sir Keir did not take child sexual abuse seriously, when the opposite was true.
"As national lead, I can assure you that he and I put right the failings of a generation of those who should have safeguarded children. He inherited failure and left success," he tweeted.
A Labour Party source said: "This is a doctored video tweeted by a far-right social media account.
"As a Government minister, we hope Nadine Dorries acknowledges this and takes it down."
Mrs Allan has been a prominent campaigner for victims of CSE, and was a key figure in calls for an inquiry into the issue in Telford.
An inquiry, being chaired by Tom Crowther QC, is currently in the process of speaking to survivors, and confirmed it had carried out some interviews remotely in the past few weeks.
A Downing Street spokesman said: "These tweets have rightly been deleted.
"The MPs involved have been spoken to by the whips' office and reminded of their responsibility to check the validity of information before they post on social media sites."
Mrs Allan has been contacted for comment.