Angela Rayner says ‘sexist’ and ‘classist’ article implied she was ‘thick’
Independent

The Mail on Sunday has rejected a summons from Commons speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle to discuss their widely criticised story about Angela Rayner.

David Dillon, the publication's editor, has said he will not be meeting with the speaker, after Hoyle told MPs he had asked to speak to him and Rayner separately about it. Dillon said he will “not take instruction from officials of the House of Commons, however august they may be”.

It comes after the Mail on Sunday reported that unnamed Tory MPs say Rayner distracts the PM by crossing and uncrossing her legs, and compared her behaviour to- the film Basic Instinct.

The article said: "Tory MPs have mischievously suggested that Ms Rayner likes to distract the PM when he is in the dispatch box by deploying a fully-clothed Parliamentary equivalent of Sharon Stone's infamous scene in the 1992 film Basic Instinct."

The paper added: "It is also suggested she employs the tactic when sitting next to Sir Keir when he faces Mr Johnson at PMQs" and quotes one MP as saying: "She knows she can't compete with Boris's Oxford Union debating training, but she has other skills which he lacks.

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It was widely criticised with some calling for the journalist who wrote it, Glen Owen, to lose his lobby pass, and politicians across the political spectrum denouncing it.

But in a letter Dillon hit back: “The Mail on Sunday deplores sexism and misogyny in all its forms. However journalists must be free to report what they are told by MPs about conversations which take place in the House of Commons, however unpalatable some may find them.”

He said that while The Mail on Sunday had “the greatest possible respect both for your office and for parliament [which] along with a free press they are the foundation stones of British democracy”, the invitation would be declined.

Dillon also claimed three more MPs had came forward to privately back up the Mail on Sunday’s report that Rayner had been the original source of the story.

But reacting to the original story, Rayner told Lorraine Kelly she had asked the paper not to run it and spoke about the impact it had had on her children.

"I was with my teenage sons and I felt really sad again that my weekend... I was trying to prepare my children to see things online about them, they don't want to see their Mum portrayed that way. I felt really down about that," she said.

She also said she felt the claim was "condescending to the prime minister which shows you what his MPs think about his behaviour" and that the story was "stepped in classism".

In his statement, Hoyle said: “I firmly believe in the duty of reporters to cover parliament, but I would also make a plea – nothing more – for the feelings of all MPs and their families to be considered, and the impact on their safety, when articles are written. I would just ask that we are all a little kinder.

“That is what I wanted to talk about at tomorrow’s meeting.”

The fallout continues.

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