Abuse of disabled MP condemned


Trevor Phillips, Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said apparent abuse of a disabled MP made him feel ill

Equalities chief Trevor Phillips has told how MPs who mocked a colleague over his disability made him feel “physically sick”.

Mr Phillips said the abuse of Tory MP Paul Maynard, who suffers from cerebral palsy, was “shocking”.

But the chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission said he would not be intervening in the Top Gear race row, sparked after presenter Richard Hammond referred to Mexicans as “lazy” and “feckless”.

Mr Phillips told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: “I am not going to get hot under the collar about schoolboy provocation which frankly is organised so that we can get in to a ruck and sell more DVDs for Jeremy Clarkson.

“Jeremy is rich enough. I don’t need to get in to that. I am bothered about what he said. It’s juvenile, it’s vulgar, it’s unacceptable but that’s for broadcasters and columnists to argue about. It’s not for the law.”

He told Marr: “We need to deal with more serious things. The other issue that you dealt with is the Paul Maynard MP problem, where he was obviously being mocked, according to his account, by other Members of Parliament.

“That to me is shocking. I felt physically sick when I read about it. If that had happened in a football ground, the people doing the mocking him would have been on CCTV and they would have whipped out of the ground and not let back. That’s one for the Speaker (John Bercow) to look at as part of his drive to increase diversity.”

In an interview with The Times, Mr Maynard, 35, MP for Blackpool North and Cleveleys, accused Labour MPs of “pulling faces” at him in an apparent mimic during a debate last October..

He said: “They were constantly intervening, trying to put me off my stride, which may be just normal parliamentary tactics. But some were pulling faces at me, really exaggerated gesticulations, really exaggerated faces. Only they know for certain whether they were taking the mick out of my disability. But it felt like it.”

A spokeswoman for Commons Speaker John Bercow said “discrimination or abuse towards any Member on any grounds is not acceptable”.

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