POLITICS
06/02/2015 10:47 GMT | Updated 01/05/2015 10:59 BST

BBC Question Time: Tristram Hunt Under Fire For 'Sneering' At Nuns

Tristram Hunt has been forced to apologise after questioning the quality of nuns' teaching on BBC Question Time.

On Thursday night's programme, Labour's shadow education secretary took issue with journalist Christina Odone, former editor of the Catholic Herald, when she spoke about her "inspiring" teaching at a religious school.

"You know what, they taught values, not British values, they taught real values," she said.

Hunt butted in to ask if the teachers were nuns, which Odone confirmed, leading him to respond: "I know about your religious schooling, and there's a difference, I think, between having a state education system having qualified teachers in the classroom."

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Odone shot back: "Sorry, I think I know about my schooling better than you Tristram."

tristramhunt Tristram Hunt looks on as Christina Odone speaks on Question Time

Hunt later apologised on Twitter, insisting he "obviously meant no offence to nuns" and was trying to make a "generalised point about the use of unqualified teachers in schools".

His remarks on the show provoked outrage, with Hunt being accused of "sneering" at faith schools. Marcus Jones, Tory MP for Nuneaton, told the Huffington Post UK that nuns from his constituency would be "unimpressed".

"As a former Roman Catholic school pupil," he added, "[I] don't think he will get too many christmas cards from Roman Catholic schools."

Meanwhile, Damian McBride, Gordon Brown's former chief spin doctor, branded him a "dick".

Hunt's Question Time row came on the same episode that Respect MP George Galloway was heckled when panellists discussed the rising tide of anti-semitism. The Labour shadow education secretary was previously accused of being patronising after telling a parent and a teachers' group on Twitter to "stop moaning" and "do some work".

After a parent complained of only being given generalities about Labour policies, Hunt told him, and the anti-coalition protest group "Teacher Roar", to go and "read the speeches", adding: "Your industry will be rewarded".