Wednesday 25 February 2015

Letter to Independent on Sunday Editor, Lisa Markwell. Wednesday 25th February 2015

Dear Lisa,

William Gore, your deputy managing editor, has sent me a transcript of my interview by Jamie Merrill  though not the second part which I would also like please.

I'm grateful to you for this. I should have been told that I was being recorded as a matter of practice and courtesy, I wasn't but at least this part of the tape indicates what I did say though the wording remains curious to me "sex pedophiles" isn't a combination I'd use and I don't know what reservations were made later.

But this isn't the point of my concern. What I said was not a Natalie Bennett moment but a joke. It was clearly intended as a joke and something no one who knew me or was in their right minds could or should have assumed to be true. My intention was clearly to make  a point which a rather obtuse reporter didn't seem to understand that UKIP isn't going to win Grimsby, can't win Grimsby, and shouldn't be puffed up as if they might win Grimsby.

I won't go over all the reasons again though I did to Merrill but it is surely not responsible journalism to take an illustrative orbiter dicta and inflate it into the article because his original argument that he set out to push has been destroyed. By projecting a joke as my view and then feeding it to the candidates to react with shock and horror he has defamed me, made the Labour Party look cynical, and damaged Grimsby's reputation, as well as that of our new candidate

Let me make it clear. I have never believed or acted on the view that Labour can just select anyone and win. I have never felt the disrespect for Grimsby's electors that that view implies. On the contrary I have always treated them, as Tony Crosland did, as the real England, the salt of the earth, and people to be treated with respect and fairness. Their interests lie with Labour which offers more hope of growth, expansion, and betterment than do the Tories but they haven't been fairly treated by any party and there is a fed up proportion as a result.

For the purpose of sexing up a half baked thesis your reporter has damaged me, my relationship with Grimsby, and Labour's prospects. A responsible paper would give me the right of reply to make this clear.

Yours sincerely, 

Austin Mitchell MP
Chair, NUJ parliamentary group 

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