Tulip Siddiq apologises for remark to pregnant Channel 4 producer

Labour MP was accused of ‘apparently threatening’ comment after she was asked about a man held in Bangladesh.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Tulip Siddiq apologises for remark to pregnant Channel 4 producer” was written by Jamie Grierson, for The Guardian on Wednesday 29th November 2017 12.44 UTC

The Labour MP Tulip Siddiq has apologised for comments she made to a Channel 4 News producer about having a difficult childbirth.

After a heated confrontation with the Channel 4 News reporter Alex Thomson, Siddiq said to his producer, Daisy Ayliffe, who is pregnant: “Thanks Daisy for coming. Hope you have a great birth because child labour is hard.”

In his report, Thomson called Siddiq’s comments “apparently threatening”.

The programme’s editor, Ben de Pear, later said he had complained to the MP and the Labour party.

In a statement published on Twitter, Siddiq said: “I want to apologise unreservedly for my comments to Channel 4’s producer, which were an offhand and ill-judged attempt to deal with what I felt was a hostile situation. I would never want to upset her and I hope she accepts my apology.”

Thomson tried to ask Siddiq about the case of Ahmad bin Quasem, a British-trained barrister in prison in Bangladesh, while she was at a rally in support of the jailed British-Iranian woman Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

Siddiq’s aunt is Sheikh Hasina Wazed, the prime minister of Bangladesh, and Channel 4 News said it had previously tried to contact the Labour MP about the case of Bin Quasem, who human rights organisations say was abducted by state security forces.

When questioned by Thomson, Siddiq repeatedly asked the reporter whether Bin Quasem was a citizen of Britain or a resident of Hampstead, of which he is neither.

Before the comment to Ayliffe, Siddiq said to Thomson: “I’m a Labour MP for Hampstead and Kilburn, I’m a British member of parliament. Be very careful.

“I’m not Bangladeshi and the person you are talking about, I have no idea about their case. That is the end of my statement.”

She has received support from people on Twitter who have questioned why Siddiq should have to account for actions in Bangladesh purely on the grounds she has a Bangladeshi heritage.

Addressing the questions about Bin Quasem in her apology, Siddiq said: “With regard to the Channel 4 news report itself, and as I made clear prior to the event on Saturday, I was born in London and serve as a British member of parliament. The focus of my work is spent on delivering for the residents of Hampstead and Kilburn who elected me to represent them.

“The fact that some members of my family are involved in politics in Bangladesh has long been a matter of public record which I have not hidden from. That said, I have no capability nor desire to influence politics in Bangladesh.”

De Pear wrote on Twitter:

In comments reported in the Bangladeshi publication bdnews24, Siddiq told an event in Dhaka in 2015 that she believed a politician could serve people from anywhere in the world. “You don’t have to be in Bangladesh or England,” she said. “I try to help Bangladeshis in England in whatever way it is possible.”

Siddiq has been a prominent campaigner for the release of Zaghari-Ratcliffe, whose plight was recently deepened by comments by the foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, which may have exposed her to a lengthier jail term. Zaghari-Ratcliffe is a Hampstead constituent.

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