UK

Badenoch: BBC’s questioning of Liz Truss going on ‘far-right’ platform ‘trivial’

Responding to questions on Radio 4’s Today programme, Ms Badenoch said it is not for her to decide which shows Ms Truss goes on.

Kemi Badenoch appeared to clash with journalists during her morning round on Monday
Kemi Badenoch appeared to clash with journalists during her morning round on Monday (Jordan Pettitt/PA)

Women and equalities minister Kemi Badenoch has accused a BBC presenter of “trivial” and “unserious” questioning after she was asked about Liz Truss’s appearance on a platform founded by a commentator who joked about raping an MP.

An interview with the former prime minister was streamed last week on Lotus Eaters, a website set up by Carl Benjamin, who once said of Labour’s Jess Phillips that he “wouldn’t even rape” her.

Ms Phillips, the former shadow minister for domestic violence and safeguarding, has written to Rishi Sunak to urge him to deselect Ms Truss as a Conservative candidate.

Responding to questions on Radio 4’s Today programme by presenter Mishal Husain, Ms Badenoch said it is not for her to decide which shows Ms Truss goes on.

Asked whether it was appropriate for a Tory candidate to appear on the platform, she said: “Carl Benjamin is not standing for election, Liz Truss is.

“It is for her constituents to decide whether she has done a good job or not.

“It is not for you, or me for that matter, to decide which shows she should be able to go on because the presenter may have said something inappropriate before.

“We’ve had lots of scenarios of BBC presenters saying things that are inappropriate.

“I don’t know about the show. I don’t know what he said. And I don’t like making comments on things like that that I don’t know. I think it is trivial, it is unserious.”

Liz Truss took part in an interview with the Lotus Eaters website
Liz Truss took part in an interview with the Lotus Eaters website (Victoria Jones/PA)

Ms Badenoch appeared to clash with other journalists during her morning round on Monday as she accused Times Radio presenter Stig Abell of inviting her on their show under “false pretences”.

When pressed on the Tories’ plan for social care, Ms Badenoch replied: “You know that I’m not the health secretary … I have given you an overall status of where we are on social care, if you want to go into detail, you will need to speak to a health minister.

“You can ask me about business, you can ask me about equalities, so you’ve brought me on your show under false pretences.”

During an interview with Sky News, presenter Kay Burley said “I do the questions, if you don’t mind”, following a misunderstanding between herself and Ms Badenoch.

In her letter to the Prime Minister, Ms Phillips wrote: “It is clear that anyone willing to appear on this hateful platform is not suitable to be a candidate for any political party.

“Even Reform UK deselected one of its candidates after his harmful views and work as a content creator for Lotus Eaters was exposed.

“If you have any decency, you will deselect Liz Truss as Conservative candidate for South West Norfolk. Anything less than this will show how weak you are and how far the Conservative Party has sunk.”

Ms Truss recorded the interview before the General Election was called and has no relationship with Mr Benjamin, it is understood.

Tory chairman Richard Holden previously told LBC he would raise Ms Truss’s appearance on the show with her. He said had never heard of Mr Benjamin and had not known Ms Truss would appear on his show.

Mr Benjamin, who gained a large YouTube following under the name Sargon of Akkad, failed in his bid to get elected to the European Parliament as a Ukip candidate in 2019 following his comments about Ms Phillips.

He launched Lotuseaters.com in 2020.

In a lengthy response, Mr Benjamin accused Ms Phillips of telling “flagrant misinformation and outright lies” about him, saying her claim about “despicable views about violence against women” was based on a “joke” he made.