The SNP’s John Nicolson dragged her over the coals about her online behaviour, focussing at one point on a now-deleted tweet to broadcaster James O’Brien that she retweeted, which said: “I believe James O'Brien of LBC fame is a Hate preacher, a liar, a misogynist, a UK hater & an apologist for Islamist atrocities”.
“You’re in no position to talk about James O’Brien saying offensive things about you,” he said during the session on Tuesday.
“Apart from being actionable and defamatory, it’s grotesque.”
She said she had to respond to “aggressive, unpleasant tweets” she received as “a female politician” and asked Nicolson to look at “his own tweet history”.
Nicolson said “you’ll find no abuse in my tweet history” and added said he didn’t accept her defence.
It comes after MPs and journalist have followed a trail of Dorries’ rather unorthodox social media breadcrumbs and haven’t exactly liked what they’ve found. The culture secretary has hammered everyone from O’Brien to Laura Kuenssberg, yet has recently asked people to “tone down” condemnation on platforms like Twitter.
Elsewhere during the hearing, Dorries claimed Channel 4 is “in receipt of public money” when defending her decision to poo-poo their attempts to interview her and other government ministers. Channel 4 is a private broadcaster that makes its money “through commercial operations”, as MPs pointed out.
Nadine Dorries: Just because Channel 4 is in receipt of public money
Damien Green: Channel 4 is not in receipt of… https://t.co/6cRfSXNiVD
She was also quizzed on her comments from 2017 in which she had described O’Brien as a “public school posh boy f*** wit”, despite him attending the same school as her daughters.
Asked whether such correspondence would fall into the category of abuse under the government’s proposed online safety legislation, she replied: “I’m not going to answer any of these questions, I find them quite personal...”
“I think if you search the number of times I’ve tweeted James O’Brien, I think he might find it two”, she added.
“If you search the number of times James O’Brien has persistently tweeted me to the point where we had at my office a number of years ago, probably about 18 months, two years ago, had to write to Global complaining that his behaviour was stepping into the realms of harassment - that was at the point which I sent that tweet.”
Indy100 has contacted Dorries to comment on this story.