'It's Not Funny': Cabinet Minister Asked To Justify Arresting Homeless People For 'Smell'

Education secretary Gillian Keegan challenged over "ridiculous" new law during live TV interview.
Gillian Keegan
Gillian Keegan
Sky News

Education secretary Gillian Keegan has been challenged over whether government plans mean homeless people will be arrested simply if they “smell”.

Rishi Sunak is facing a major Tory rebellion over controversial plans to criminalise the homeless with his Criminal Justice Bill.

In an interview with Sky News on Tuesday morning, Keegan was berated by presenter Kay Burley for smiling when asked about the issue.

“It’s not funny,” she told Keegan. “What about if they smell?

“The bill states rough sleepers might be considered a nuisance if they smell. So if you smell you might be arrested?”

Keegan said she was “not saying it’s funny” and the “most important thing is to get people off the streets”.

She added: “No, people shouldn’t be arrested just if they smell.”

The legislation as currently drafted does say people could be arrested for “excessive” damage “to the environment” including “smells”.

When this was pointed out to Keegan by Burley, the education secretary said: “I don’t know. I haven’t looked at that detail of it.

“But I mean, I guess the word is ‘excessive’ and I don’t know what they mean by that.”

Burley told her: “How ridiculous, some might say, to put that in the bill.”

The Criminal Justice Bill was first introduced by Suella Braverman when she was home secretary.

At the time, Braverman triggered a backlash for suggesting some people were homeless due to a “lifestyle choice”.

Keegan said she did not agree with the former home secretary. “No, it’s not a lifestyle choice.”


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