While responding to a question about allegations against Deputy Chief Whip Chris Pincher, Diane Abbott made the unfounded claim that Boris Johnson is “rumoured to like assaulting women” and accused him of hypocrisy.
The Labour MP made the statement about the Prime Minister while discussing reports that Mr Pincher groped two men in a London club on BBC Radio 4’s Broadcasting House.
When questioned if a man sexually assaulting a woman would have received different treatment than Mr Pincher allegedly groping two men, the former shadow home secretary said, ‘It might have been treated differently.’
She continued, however, and made an unsubstantiated accusation against the Prime Minister.
‘But that’s because Boris Johnson is rumoured to like assaulting women,’ said the Hackney North and Stoke Newington MP. ‘So it’s sheer hypocrisy from him.’
‘That’s not been printed this morning, it’s not being said by the BBC,’ said host Paddy O’Connell, rebuking the claim.
‘Diane, you’ve got to answer my questions rather than raising new claims.’
To edit out the segment, the BBC temporarily removed the show from its catch-up service.
A spokesperson said: ‘For editorial reasons, we are editing today’s episode of Broadcasting House,’ a spokesman said in a statement.
‘We are working to make it available to listeners as soon as possible.’
The majority of the interview, including Abbott’s quip “Pincher by name, pincher by nature,” is still available to listen to in the available version.
When asked if the allegations against Mr Pincher have always been a problem in Parliament, she replied, ‘I think we probably know more about it now than we knew 30 years ago.’
‘When I first became an MP there was very much the sense that Westminster was a club and what happened in Westminster stayed in Westminster, but with online, twitter it’s very hard to keep things a secret.’
Ms Abbott also praised the increased “transparency” in reporting sexual harassment allegations and supported the idea of a separate HR system for Parliament.
She suggested that the fact that complaints had been made to parliamentary authorities represented a step forward from a few decades ago when male staffers were far less likely to contact the Whips’ Office.
The Prime Minister’s Office declined to comment on the said issue.