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Point of Order

Volume 691: debated on Thursday 18 March 2021

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I rise to make a point of order in relation to what the Leader of the House said earlier. He may have inadvertently misled the House when he used words like “cheat” and “editing a recording” about something that I raised in relation to the Foreign Secretary. I have had this statement from the journalist in question and from the Huffington Post:

“We did not edit any recording passed to us and quoted it in full.”

Could I have your guidance on what the Leader of the House could do? If the Leader of the House is not prepared to repeat what he said outside, he must withdraw it and apologise now; otherwise, he is casting aspersions on the integrity of a journalist. Could I have your guidance please, Mr Speaker?

Obviously, the point has been raised, but it is not for me to judge on it. However, the Leader of the House is here, and I look to see whether he wishes to respond and clear the matter up.

Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. The Foreign Office has made it clear, and has said:

“We regret that this audio has been deliberately and selectively clipped to distort the Foreign Secretary’s comments. As he made crystal clear in his full answer, the UK always stands up for and speaks out on human rights. In his full answer, in an internal meeting, he highlighted examples where the UK has applied Magnitsky sanctions and raised issues at the UN regardless of trade interests, and that this was a responsible, targeted and carefully calibrated approach to bilateral relations.”

I repeat:

“We regret that this audio has been deliberately and selectively clipped”.

If the journalist did not clip it himself, he ought to have known it was clipped. He is either a knave or a fool.

I think we will have to leave it there. I am now suspending the House for three minutes to enable the necessary arrangements to be made for the next business.

Sitting suspended.