Speaking on Sunday’s show, Phillips quizzed Dowden on whether Boris Johnson truly understood the nation’s anger over the Downing Street parties, adding that “a civil servant’s inquiry” will not suffice.
Phillips said: “We all stuck to the spirit and the letter of the rules. On the Saturday after watching the funeral of Prince Philip, I went to one of my friends’ 70th birthday party.
“He hired a tent, he has got loads of friends, but he hired a tent just for the six of us so that we could sit outside. He stuck to the spirit and the letter of the rules. At that dinner, I get a call, my daughter has collapsed. As you will know, for months she had been isolated, she was ill.
“By the following morning, she had died and she had stuck to the spirit and letter of the rules. Now, there are going to be thousands of people who have that story in their background. And if I may say so, you are in here telling me about a civil servant’s inquiry. That will not answer that anger.
“Does the Prime Minister really understand why people are angry?”
Phillips’ daughter, freelance journalist Sushila, 36, died in April last year after living with anorexia for 22 years.
In response, Dowden responded: “I know how much you have suffered during this period.”
“It shouldn’t have happened and it was wrong, they’ve already apologised for doing so. It was just wrong and it shouldn’t have happened.”
He added: “In order to move on from this, we first of all need to establish the full facts of what happened at all the different alleged events that took place and that’s the purpose of the Sue Gray inquiry.”
People turned to Twitter with messages of support for the broadcaster.
Piers Morgan spoke out and tweeted: “Heart-breaking. This is why Boris Johnson has to go - so many people have tragic stories like this, and all the time the Prime Minister and his staff were practising the opposite to what they preached.”
This is all one really needs to watch. It is unbearable but goes to the heart of why Johnson cannot remain PM. Ther… https://t.co/f01BYuRNUG