Dawn Butler urges Tory minister Kemi Badenoch to ‘correct the record’ after attack on PinkNews

Labour MP Dawn Butler and minister for women and equalities Kemi Badenoch

Labour MP Dawn Butler has called on Kemi Badenoch to “correct the record” after she used parliamentary privilege to make misleading comments about PinkNews CEO Benjamin Cohen.

Badenoch used her first appearance as women and equalities minister to launch an attack on Cohen, instead of mentioning any substantial support for LGBTQ+ people in the UK.

In a letter addressed to Badenoch, which Dawn Butler has shared online, she referenced the “misleading” comments and said she was “shocked” Badenoch would use her parliamentary privilege to spread “misinformation” about Cohen. 

Butler highlighted that in the House of Commons Badenoch had claimed the PinkNews CEO “uses Twitter as a tool for defamation”, and alleged that members of the House had sued him.

“I am sure that it was never your intention to mislead the House. And as the Women and Equalities Minister, you will agree that it is essential the rights of our free press are not infringed upon, including those who represent our LGBTQI+ communities in this country,” Butler wrote.

The Labour MP, who was diagnosed with cancer this year, emphasised that Badenoch’s newly assigned role is “vital for our society, ensuring that rights are championed and not disregarded and downgraded”.

“That is why I am urgently asking you to come to parliament at the [earliest] opportunity to correct the record on the floor of the house.”


Cohen requested a formal apology

Badenoch criticised Cohen after being asked about a series of tweets posted by the PinkNews CEO in response to her appointment in Rishi Sunak’s government.

In the tweets, Cohen criticised Badenoch for describing trans women as “men” and noted that she abstained on a vote to legalise same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland, among other issues.

When asked to respond to the tweets, Badenoch said “this particular individual is someone who uses Twitter as a tool for defamation”, wrongly suggesting he had been sued as a result.

Cohen shared his disappointment in Badenoch spreading “misinformation and untruths”, and requested a formal apology.

Parliamentary privilege is a freedom of speech which grants both houses legal immunity against civil or criminal liability, allowing MPs to expose wrongdoing without fear of backlash. 

Yesterday (26 October) Jeremy Corbyn used his Twitter platform to condemn Badenoch’s actions and share his support for the LGBTQ+ community. 

Badenoch was announced to Rishi Sunak’s cabinet as minister for women and equalities on Tuesday, 25 October, and her appointment has been met with “grave concern” from the LGBTQ+ community.