Trevor Phillips 'sickened' by Commons 'mockery' of MP
- 6 February 2011
- From the section UK Politics
Equalities chief Trevor Phillips has told the BBC he felt "physically sick" at reports that a Conservative MP with cerebral palsy was mocked by other MPs.
Paul Maynard told the Times Labour MPs had pulled faces at him in the Commons, saying he felt they were "taking the mick out of my disability".
Mr Phillips told the BBC Speaker John Bercow should look into the matter.
Labour MP Tom Harris, who was not at the debate, has said no MP would attack someone for having a disability.
Mr Maynard - who was elected MP for Blackpool North and Cleveleys in May - describes his cerebral palsy as being "very mild" and not really affecting how he lives.
But he told the Times on Saturday that some MPs had been making "exaggerated gesticulations, really exaggerated faces" at him during a debate about the abolition of the child trust fund last year.
He added: "Only they know for certain whether they were taking the mick out of my disability. But it felt like it."
Mr Phillips, head of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, told BBC One's Andrew Marr Show: "He was obviously being mocked, according to his account, by other members of Parliament - that to me is shocking, I felt physically sick when I read about it.
"If that had happened in a football ground, the people mocking him would have been on CCTV, and they would have been whipped out of the ground and not let back.
"That's one for the Speaker to look at as part of his drive to increase diversity."
Labour MP Mr Harris told BBC Radio 5 Live on Saturday that no MP would have deliberately targeted someone over their disability.
He was not there but said he understood people were jeering until they realised there was "another issue".
He said: "Nobody knew about Paul's disability. If anyone did know about it and still made fun of him that is absolutely appalling and unforgivable."
Mr Phillips was also asked about the row over comments on the BBC programme Top Gear about Mexicans - which resulted in an apology by the BBC last week.
The Mexican ambassador in London complained about presenters' comments that Mexicans were lazy and feckless - describing them as "offensive, xenophobic and humiliating".
The Sunday Times reports that Mr Phillips will make a speech next week criticising the "PC lobby" for being fixated with "the trivial" rather than the "truly dangerous".
Asked about the Top Gear row - which newspapers suggested could fall foul of the new Equality Act, Mr Phillips said: "I'm not going to get hot under the collar about schoolboy provocation which frankly is organised so that we can get into a ruck and sell more DVDs for Jeremy Clarkson - Jeremy is rich enough."
He said the comments were "juvenile, it's vulgar, it's unacceptable" - but that was for broadcasters and columnists to argue about, it was not a matter for the law.
He said the EHRC should look at how it should carry out its role most effectively - adding that the public mood had changed in recent years so people were less tolerant of inequality.
He said the sexism row over a Sky Sports pundit's off-air remarks demonstrated the change, he said adding that Sky did "the right thing" in dismissing him: "But we didn't have to ring them up."