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The Deputy PM said it was ‘legitimate’ for Sir Lindsay to ask for a meeting with the newspaper’s editor amid criticism of the piece.
But he insisted it was the ‘prerogative’ of editors to decide how to respond to such invitations and he would not ‘second guess’ David Dillon opting to decline.
Meanwhile, Downing Street said Boris Johnson is ‘uncomfortable’ at the idea of the free press being summoned by politicians.
The article on Sunday included comments from an unnamed Tory MP suggesting that Ms Rayner had a tactic of crossing and uncrossing her legs in the chamber to distract Boris Johnson – something she has angrily denied.
Sir Lindsay announced on Monday that he had arranged a meeting with Mr Dillon and MoS political editor Glen Owen.
However, Mr Dillon today revealed they will not be attending as journalists should ‘not take instruction from officials of the House of Commons, however august they may be’.
Dominic Raab (left) today defended the right of the Mail on Sunday to refuse to meet Speaker Lindsay Hoyle over the Angela Rayner ‘Basic Instinct’ article. Meanwhile, Downing Street said Boris Johnson (right) is ‘uncomfortable’ at the idea of the free press being summoned by politicians
‘The Mail On Sunday deplores sexism and misogyny in all its forms,’ the editor said.
‘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.’
In a round of interviews this morning, Mr Raab said he was ‘not going to second guess the… decisions of editors’.
Pressed on whether the Commons Speaker should have extended the invitation, Mr Raab told Sky News: ‘I think it was a legitimate thing for Lindsay Hoyle to do to invite him and, of course, it’s the prerogative of any editor to decide how they treat that invitation.’
A Downing Street spokesman said this afternoon: ‘The Prime Minister is uncomfortable at the idea of our free press being summoned by politicians.
‘We have a free press in this country and reporters must be free to report what they are told as they see fit.’
The spokesman said Mr Johnson would not want ‘any perception of politicians seeking to in any way curb or control what a free press seeks to report’.
Sir Lindsay did not make any further remarks in the Commons today. In a statement last night he said he had wanted to use the meeting to ask that ‘we are all a little kinder’.
He made the point that he had only recently rejected calls to remove the parliamentary pass from another journalist, after some MPs called for Mr Owen to have his pass removed.
‘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,’ Sir Lindsay said.
At PMQs, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer – flanked by Ms Rayner, wearing a trouser suit – called on Mr Johnson to agree there was ‘no place’ for misogyny in modern Britain.
Sir Keir said: ‘I know the Prime Minister will have whipped his backbenchers to scream and shout and that is fine. But I hope he has also sent a clear message that there is no place for sexism and misogyny or looking down on people because of where they come from in his party, in this House, or in modern Britain.’
Mr Johnson replied that he had ‘exchanged messages’ with Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner at the weekend after the MoS article.
He added: ‘I repeat what I said to her, there can be absolutely no place for such behaviour or such expression in this House and we should treat each other frankly, with the respect that each other deserves.’
It comes after audio from a political podcast back in January revealed that Mrs Rayner herself had joked about being compared to Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct, while saying it was ‘mortifying’.
In the recording of a light-hearted question and answer session with comedian Matt Forde, she volunteered the fact that her appearance at PMQs that month had drawn comparisons with the infamous Sharon Stone character in the 1992 thriller.
At PMQs, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer – flanked by Ms Rayner, wearing a trouser suit – called on Mr Johnson to agree there was ‘no place’ for misogyny in modern Britain
Source: Daily Mail