Husband of Sheffield MP Angela Smith apologises after saying Shadow Equalities Secretary lied about racism
The husband of Sheffield MP Angela Smith has been forced to apologise after saying that the Shadow Equalities Secretary lied about her experience of racism in Parliament.
Labour MP Dawn Butler wrote about her experience of being a black woman in politics when she first entered Parliament in an opinion piece in the Metro as part of Black History Month.
But Steve Wilson, who is office manager for his wife – Penistone and Stocksbridge Liberal Democrat MP Angela Smith – criticised Butler on Twitter saying she had made up her account of being mistaken for a cleaner while in a lift in Parliament because she was black.
In a reply to a post Ms Butler made on Twitter sharing the article, he wrote: “Sorry but this is just not true. I’ve worked in parliament for 15 years and the lifts have always been for the use of everyone. Only time MPs have priority is during a division. Stories like this don’t do anyone any justice and anyone propagating then [sic] should stop it.”
The tweet and his account have also been deleted.
The former Sheffield councillor has since apologised for his tweet. He said: “I apologise for the offence I have caused. We must all take responsibility for condemning racism and prejudice in all its forms, in order to stamp it out from our society."
But Ms Butler said the apology is ‘not good enough’ adding that she is yet to receive a direct apology.
She has written a letter to the Lib Dem leader, Jo Swinson, calling on her to investigate the ‘deeply disturbing’ trolling and suspend Mr Wilson.
“When I was first elected, I was told by another MP in a lift in Parliament that 'this lift isn’t for cleaners',” she added. “He assumed I was the cleaner because I'm black.
"This isn't a 'story'. This is race discrimination in the workplace; it is experienced by black, Asian and ethnic minority people in workplaces across our country every single day and we need to stamp it out.
"White men denying our lived experiences and accusing those of us who speak out about them of lying legitimises and promotes racism. I urge Jo Swinson to investigate, educate and take firm disciplinary action against this disgraceful gaslighting behaviour."
Ms Smith came under fire earlier this year after describing people from a black, Asian or minority ethnic background as having a ’funny tinge’ during an appearance on the BBC Two programme Politics Live. She subsequently issued an apology and said she had misspoken.
Last week it was revealed that she will not stand in Penistone and Stocksbridge in the next election.
The former Labour MP left the party in February to join Change UK but began sitting as an independent in June.
Now, under the Lib Dem banner, Ms Smith has announced she will leave her seat and instead challenge Conservative Sir Graham Brady in his Altrincham and Sale West seat, near Manchester