Labour shadow minister apologises 'unreservedly' over Desmond Tory 'puppet master' tweet

Steve Reed MP says his tweet was 'inappropriate and as soon as I realised my error I deleted it.'


Labour MP Steve Reed has apologised "unreservedly" for tweeting that property developer Richard Desmond was a ‘’the puppet master to the entire Tory cabinet.’’

The Shadow Communities Secretary had sparked anger over the weekend after marking the comment on social media in relation to the row over the £1 billion property deal involving Mr Desmond which was controversially signed off by Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick.

He had quickly deleted the tweet soon after it appeared on Twitter on Saturday - but faced criticism for not issuing an apology for his actions.

On Monday Mr Reed said:''I want to apologise unreservedly for the language in the tweet I posted on Saturday. It was inappropriate and as soon as I realised my error I deleted it.''

Conservative MP Nicola Richards had earlier written to Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer to demand he "take action'' over what she said was  "the antisemitic language used by Shadow Communities Secretary Steve Reed MP."

In her letter the West Bromwich East MP, who is Jewish, said that by labelling Mr  Desmond , who she described as ''someone from the Jewish faith'' a ''puppet-master'' Mr Reed had resorted to the use of ''an age old antisemitic trope.''

Ms Richards said:''It is completely unacceptable for a member of your Shadow Cabinet to use such deeply hurtful language.''

She added that just two weeks ago Sir Keir ''took a stand'' and sacked  shadow front bencher Rebecca Long-Bailey for  ''sharing an antisemitic conspiracy theory. ''

Ms Richards, who has previously worked for the Jewish Leadership Council, suggested that if Sir Keir wished to stand by his pledge to rid his party of antisemitism, he should ''take action'' against Mr Reed.

Appearing on Nick Ferrari's LBC show on Monday, the Labour leader was asked about Mr Reed’s tweet. 

He replied that he “hadn’t seen it, but will take a look at it” and said he would speak to Mr Reed after the radio interview.

The JC understands that Mr Reed told the leader he had recognised his mistake himself as soon as he tweeted it, and had taken the decision to immediately delete the message.

Former Shadow Education Secretary Ms Long-Bailey has failed to delete a tweet supporting an article by the actress Maxine Peake. After anger grew over her tweet she ignored further demands from the Leaders Office for her to apologise over the matter.

A Labour spokesperson said on Monday:''“Steve deleted the tweet and did not mean to cause any offence.”


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