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Saffron Walden MP Kemi Badenoch defends her Twitter comments over journalist's BAME vaccine video questions

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Saffron Walden Tory MP Kemi Badenoch has defended comments she made on her Twitter feed in which she described a young reporter's line of questioning as "creepy and bizarre".

The equalities minister and Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury came under fire for her social media response, but said the journalist's allegations that she had refused to take part in a video promoting take-up of the Covid-19 vaccine among Black, Asian and ethnic minority groups was "a sad insight into how some journalists operate" and served as a reminder of "why there is so much confusion and mistrust".

Huffpost journalist Nadine White had emailed Mrs Badenoch's office with questions about the video campaign, asking why she had refused to participate.

Saffron Walden MP, equalities minister and Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury Kemi Badenoch
Saffron Walden MP, equalities minister and Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury Kemi Badenoch

The MP had just come out of a day of meetings when she was made aware of the emails.

She took to Twitter to accuse the reporter of "making up claims" and published screenshots of the email, naming the reporter and stating that it was "creepy and bizarre to fixate on who didn’t participate in a video and demand they explain themselves".

The HuffPost subsequently claimed Nadine White had since received a "torrent" of abuse and been forced to close her private Twitter account.

Downing Street stood by the MP this week and said Mrs Badenoch had "been civil to Nadine White".

In a statement to the Indie on Tuesday (Feb 2), a spokesperson for the MP, who was re-elected to serve the Saffron Walden constituency in December 2019, said: "As equalities minister, Mrs Badenoch has been working to encourage vaccine take-up and confidence amongst those disproportionately affected by the pandemic.

"She believes that to instil confidence in the vaccine it is vital to remain unified and not undermine the message of promoting take-up among minority communities.

"Given Mrs Badenoch’s commitment to this issue, demonstrated by her participating in vaccine trials, the journalist’s allegation that she had refused to participate in a video she helped organise and promote undermined that message and distracted from the issue of vaccine confidence.

"The Government is working on tackling the disproportionate impact Covid has had on minority communities. Increasing vaccine confidence is essential in this work and the Government wants every eligible person to benefit from the offer of a free vaccine, no matter their ethnicity or religious beliefs.”

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