Kemi Badenoch Twitter complaint dismissed by government

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A complaint against the equalities minister, made after she attacked a journalist's question on Twitter, has been dismissed by the Cabinet Office.

Kemi Badenoch accused a HuffPost journalist of asking her a "creepy" question about a pro-vaccine video.

Labour said she had exposed the journalist to "a torrent of abuse online" and should be investigated.

However the top Cabinet Office civil servant said the tweets were not posted from a government Twitter account.

Permanent Secretary Alex Chisolm said: "The minister is personally responsible for deciding how to act and conduct herself, and for justifying her own actions and conduct.

"As such, this is a matter on which the minister would be best placed to offer a response. I note in addition the prime minister's press secretary has already provided comments on this matter."

Responding to his comments, HuffPo editor-in-chief Jess Brammar wrote: "It is absurd to any reasonable person to suggest that the words of a minister are somehow less accountable if they are written by them on Twitter than if they appeared in a press release, or were given in an interview."

"It is cold comfort that we were not alone in mistakenly thinking that the minister's verified Twitter account, in which she describes herself as 'treasury and equalities minister', was in some way linked to her job."

The row began when the journalist Nadine White asked why Ms Badenoch had not taken part in a video featuring Black MPs encouraging people to get the Covid-19 vaccine.

The Saffron Walden MP published the query on Twitter and accused HuffPost of seeking to "sow distrust by making up claims I refused to take part in a video campaign".

She added that it was "creepy and bizarre to fixate on who didn't participate in a video and demand they explain themselves" adding that she supported the pro-vaccine message.

Labour's shadow women and equalities secretary Marsha de Cordova said Ms Badenoch's actions "fell well below the standards and behaviours expected of a government minister".

It also prompted criticism from Boris Johnson's senior adviser on ethnic minorities Samuel Kasumu.

"It was not OK or justifiable, but somehow nothing was said. I waited, and waited, for something from the senior leadership team to even point to an expected standard, but it did not materialise," he said.

Earlier this month the prime minister's press secretary told journalists the government believed in HuffPost's right to ask questions of government and that Ms Badenoch's decision to put the correspondence in the public domain was a matter for her.

Responding to HuffPost's criticism, a Government Equalities Office spokesman said: "The minister has been working to encourage vaccine take up and confidence amongst those disproportionately affected by the pandemic.

"She 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."

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