Lewes MP criticised by Downing Street for ‘fake news’ after sharing misleading clip of Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer

Lewes MP Maria Caulfield: temporarily vanished from Twitter

The Conservative MP for Lewes, along with two other parliamentary colleagues, has today (14 May) been accused of spreading ‘fake news’ about Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer.

Maria Caulfield’s Twitter account stopped working shortly after she relayed falsely edited footage of Sir Keir in 2013, commenting on his previous five years as director of public prosecutions.

The footage was from an interview where the Labour leader heavily criticized the decision not to proceed in some cases involving child sexual abuse.

Sir Keir said the approach was “wrong”, and based on assumptions that “don’t withstand scrutiny”.

He listed them as including that:

“A victim of child sexual abuse will swiftly report what happened to them to the police; will be able to give a coherent and consistent account first time; that they will not themselves have engaged in any offending or other behaviour; and that they will not have misused drugs or alcohol at any stage — those assumptions do not withstand scrutiny, they’ve got to change.”

The clip, forwarded but not made by Maria Caulfield, used only the first section of the quotation, and was accompanied by the words “True face of the Labour leader. #Shameful”.

Along with the disappearance of the Lewes MP’s Twitter account, the two other Conservatives involved, health minister Nadine Dorries and Lucy Allan, the MP for Telford, have deleted their own copies of the video.

Downing Street later responded to the tweets by criticising the MPs’ actions.

A spokesperson was reported as saying:

“These tweets have rightly been deleted.

“The MPs involved have been spoken to by the whips’ office and reminded of their responsibility to check the validity of information before they post on social media sites.”

Around 10pm the same evening, the Lewes MP, who herself is an assistant government whip, replied to More Radio and admitted her error — her Twitter account has also been restored.

Maria Caulfield said:

“I simply made a mistake in retweeting a tweet from a colleague.

“I deleted the retweet immediately I knew it was fake news.”

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