As Boris Johnson responded to query at Prime Ministers’ Questions, Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting heckled the Prime Minister. Website GuidoFawkes claimed he said: “Personal responsibility? What next? Harold Shipman on the frontbench?”
Responding to this, the MP for Ilford North tweeted: “I did NOT say that.
“What I said was: ‘Lectures from you (Johnson) on personal responsibility? What next? Harold Shipman on medical ethics?!’
“I accept this wasn’t in good taste, so I’m sorry about that.”
Whatever the exact wording, referencing the UK’s most prolific serial killer of recent times to make a political attack was roundly slammed.
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Twitter user Jenner wrote: “Horrible joke that ought never have to been uttered especially from a person aspiring to be the top person in charge of the NHS.”
Tim Mitchell said: “‘What next? Harold Shipman on the front bench’.
“Sounds pretty clear on this – I suggest some more ‘clarification’ and apologising to do.”
Dave Studland posted: “(Mr) Streeting is looking more like Km Jong-un every day in his appearance.”
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A Tory source later said: “If true this is an appalling comparison made by (Mr) Streeting.
“He urgently needs to clarify whether or not he made those comments.”
The apology came as MPs faced heightened scrutiny over their use of language in the wake of Mr Johnson’s widely criticised Jimmy Savile smear aimed at Sir Keir Starmer.
The Prime Minister was accused of trying to deflect attention away from the partygate scandal by repeating a lie that the Labour leader failed to prosecute Saville before his death.
Sir Keir was in charge of the Crown Prosecution Service at the time and apologised for its failures as leader despite having no personal involvement in any probe into Saville.
This fact did not stop a group of conspiracy theorists aggressively heckling the leader of the opposition as we walked through Westminster with Shadow Foreign Secretary David Lammy earlier this month.
Sir Keir later said he received death threats after the Prime Minister shared a baseless slur in the Commons.
Shipman, who died by suicide in prison in 2004, is one of the most notorious serial killers in modern history, having killed more than 200 people.
He was dubbed “doctor death” and was convicted in January 2000 of murdering 15 patients under his care.
The scandal surrounding his actions – and how long he got away with killing – led to changes in the way doctors operate.
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