Equalities minister Kemi Badenoch is under fire for a controversy of her own making after going on Twitter to accuse a journalist of “creepy and bizarre” behaviour, sharing private e-mails request for comment on a story – though this is standard, good journalistic practice.
In a Twitter thread in which Badenoch included the name and screenshots of the email requests to her MP’s office and to the ministerial press office from HuffPostUK journalist. She accused her of “creepy and bizarre” behaviour for wanting to know why the politician did not feature in a recent video campaign where black MP’s from a range of parties encouraged non-white people to take Covid vaccine.
“A sad insight into how some journalists operate…On Wednesday, I shared our positive, well-received cross-party video to increase vaccine confidence in the midst of so much disinformation. Last night we heard great news about the Novavax Vaccine which I’ve been trialling.
“Today, an unfortunate reminder of why there is so much confusion and mistrust. Was in meetings all day yesterday and been made aware of 2 emails received from @HuffPost journalist, Nadine White,” she tweeted to her 38,000 followers.
She suggested that the question “absurd claims” were a way to undermine the efforts made by government officials to build trust in the vaccine.
Nadine was forced to make her Twitter account private because she was being inundated with abuse following Badenoch’s publication.
HuffPost editor-in-chief, Jess Brammar said it was “correct and standard practice for journalists to check facts and approach people in public office for comment.” Brammer went on to add that the story had not been published without the response from Badenoch’s office.
“Young, female, black journalists receive some of the worst abuse on Twitter, and to behave in this way is extremely disappointing – even before you consider that the person involved is the minister for equalities,” she said.
The Equalities Office released a statement following the uproar but did not address the criticisms surrounding Badenoch’s tweets. “Badenoch believes that to instil confidence in the vaccine it is vital to remain unified, and not undermine the message of promoting take-up amongst minority communities.
Reacting to the news, Downing Street through the PM’s press secretary, Allegra Stratton blamed the minister’s outburst on a “misunderstanding” but refused to say whether the prime minister condoned Kemi Badenoch’s decision to publish the journalist’s emails on social media in a stream of tweets accusing her of “creepy and bizarre” behaviour.
Stratton said she was not aware of the prime minister speaking to Ms Badenoch about the incident and brushed aside questions over whether she would face any disciplinary action.