MP responds to HuffPost Twitter row

Kemi Badenoch, MP for Saffron Walden.

Kemi Badenoch, MP for Saffron Walden. - Credit: Archant

Saffron Walden constituency MP Kemi Badenoch has spoken out after a question from a reporter ended up making national headlines.

HuffPost UK reporter Nadine White had asked the MP,  the government's equalities minister, why she hadn't taken part in a video campaign involving Black cross-party politicians promoting the Covid vaccine.

In a series of posts on Twitter, Kemi Badenoch shared screenshots of the emails and said it was "creepy and bizarre to fixate on who didn’t participate in a video". 

The tweets, which opened a flood of abuse from the public directed at Ms White, then came under fire from a range of individuals and organisations including the National Union of Journalists. The Council of Europe has categorised the issue as harassment and intimidation of journalists.

Speaking to this paper, Mrs Badenoch said: “As Equalities Minister, I have been working to encourage vaccine take up and confidence amongst those disproportionately affected by the pandemic. I believe 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. That includes calling out actions that foster mistrust and misinformation.


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“Given my commitment to this issue, the journalist’s allegation that I had refused to participate in a video I helped organise and promote undermined that message and distracted from the issue of vaccine confidence.

“Alongside my colleagues in Government, I am 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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HuffPost UK editor-in-chief Jess Brammar said: "We refute, in the strongest possible terms, the allegations in Kemi Badenoch's original Twitter thread, which has remained up for the past three weeks.

"It is not "creepy and bizarre" or "undermining trust" in the vaccine programme for a journalist to ask a minister a question via a private email to their office.

"The suggestion that Nadine or our publication deliberately targeted a government minister, or that going to them for comment is an attempt to undermine a public health message or foster misinformation, is something that should alarm anyone who believes the role of a free press is to hold government ministers to account.

"Nadine White has been personally targeted simply for doing her job as a journalist. We await a response from both the Cabinet Office and the minister herself to the complaint we sent three weeks ago."

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