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Dorries was accused of spreading “fake news” after she shared a Twitter post by a right-wing, anti-immigration account that doctored a video of the Labour leader when he was Director of Public Prosecutions.
The post claimed Starmer was defending previous guidelines – which failed to take seriously allegations from children who didn’t coherently and immediately report abuse, who had been in trouble with the authorities, or who had used drugs or alcohol.
The health minister, who was one of several Tory MPs to share the fake claims, wrote that the claims were: “Revealing.”
But the fuller, undoctored video clip clearly shows that Starmer had in fact been criticising the guidelines.
He actually said: “These [new] guidelines are a recognition that the approach that’s been taken in the past was the wrong approach, it was based on a number of assumptions which don’t withstand scrutiny. Those assumptions have got to change and so this is a clear break with the past.”
Dorries was forced to delete the tweet but has so far not apologised.
However, No.10 issued a stern warning that no Tory MP should be sharing misinformation and government whips stepped in to
A Downing Street spokesman: ‘These Tweets have rightly been deleted. The MPs involved have been spoken to by the Whips’ Office and reminded of their responsibility to check the validity of information before they post on social media sites.”
Starmer was DPP from 2008 to 2013 and since he entered parliament has had to deal with repeated false assertions about prosecutions he has and hasn’t overseen.
Labour shadow minister Wes Streeting replied to Dorries’ tweet with a message of his own: “What’s revealing is that: 1. You’ve spread fake news and indulged a smear being promoted by the far right. 2. You had time to do this despite being a minister in the Department of Health during a public health crisis.”
Former senior prosecutor Nazir Afzal, who was involved in bringing a number of cases, said the clip was being used to suggest Sir Keir did not take child sexual abuse seriously, when the opposite was true.
“As national lead, I can assure you that he and I put right the failings of a generation of those who should have safeguarded children. He inherited failure and left success,” he tweeted.
Another Conservative backbencher, Lucy Allen, also shared it, with the comment; “This .....suggests a total failure to understand grooming, a dismissive attitude towards #CSE victims and a belief that the victims brought it on themselves.”
Tory MP Maria Caulfield deleted her entire Twitter account after posting the same tweet, which was posted by the NJamesWorld account, with the caption; “True face of the Labour leader #shameful.”
Labour sources told HuffPost UK that as a government minister Dorries should not have been tweeting “a doctored video tweeted by a far right social media account”.