Under-fire MP sent ‘odd’ note

Cabinet Office minister Oliver Letwin
Cabinet Office minister Oliver Letwin
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TOP Tory Oliver Letwin faced fresh criticism today after sending an “odd” three line letter to an MP who had demanded he apologise to the people of South Yorkshire.

Denis MacShane, MP for Rotherham, said Mr Letwin’s short letter was the “oddest not-quite-an-apology I have ever received”.

Cabinet office minister Oliver Letwin became embroiled in a row last week over alleged comments he made about not wanting Sheffield families to afford cheap holidays.

He made the alleged comments privately to Mayor of London, Boris Johnson.

Mr MacShane wrote to Mr Letwin demanding he apologise - and received a 49-word reply in which Mr Letwin wrote: “I don’t think it would be appropriate for me to comment on what is alleged to have been said in a private conversation.

“However, I can assure you I would never knowingly say something offensive to the people of Sheffield.”

Mr MacShane said: “Mr Letwin says he would ‘never knowingly say something offensive about the people of Sheffield’. That sounds as if he is admitting he did make the remarks attributed to him which have caused such offence in South Yorkshire - but he would not make them ‘knowingly’.”

Mr Letwin, a key policy adviser to Prime Minister David Cameron, is believed to have made his outburst about Sheffield during an argument with Mr Johnson about airports.

Mr MacShane said: “I guess we must thank Boris for showing what our Old Etonian rulers really think of the North.”