Minister insists crime has 'gone down' in awkward interview defending Boris Johnson's 'lies'

Minister insists crime has 'gone down' in awkward interview defending Boris Johnson's 'lies'
Minister tries to argue people don't consider fraud a crime in awkward ...

A minister appeared to claim people don't think about fraud when they "talk about crime" in an awkward interview defending a "misleading" statement Boris Johnson made in parliament about the government's progress in cutting crime.

In a BBC interview about what presenter Sophie Raworth called the prime minister's "stretched relationship with the truth", business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng was challenged on why Johnson claimed the government is cutting crime by 14 per cent despite a watchdog saying the contrary, and was asked whether his statements were "not true".

He replied: "I don't know why you say it isn't true. I don't know what the evidence is for it not being true."

It comes after Johnson claimed crime had come down by 14 per cent in a speech in parliament on Monday following the publication of the interim Sue Gray report.

But the UK Statistics Authority (UKSA) said the prime minister "did not make clear" the figure excluded fraud and it also said the Home Office had presented figures in a "misleading way".

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Raworth explained that Johnson hadn't included "fraud and computer misuse" in the figure meaning that total crime had actually increased by 14 per cent, according to UKSA.

So Kwarteng replied: "When people talk about crime... people are talking particularly about burglaries, about personal injury, about physical crimes, and I think in that context we're seeing lower crimes I think the prime minister was right."

Pressed again about whether what Johnson said in the commons was "true", Kwarteng insisted that it was these crimes Johnson was referring to.

"The point the prime minister was making was the crime that people experience in their day to day lives... has gone down".

According to the BBC, the figures for all crimes estimated by the Crime Survey of England and Wales in fact showed a 14 per cent increase for the period, including a 47 per cent rise in fraud and computer misuse.

A Labour MP also accused Johnson of misleading the house in a speech in the commons reacting to his statement:

So reacting to Kwarteng's spin, people thought it was a bit embarrassing:

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