Robert Webb has been questioned on his criticism of transgender children's charity Mermaids.

The Peep Show star, 48, previously retweeted an article in 2018 by columnist Janice Turner for The Times, entitled 'Trans ideologists are spreading cod science'.

In the piece, Turner criticised the charity Mermaids, which seeks to support transgender children and teens.

She had argued in her piece that "Mermaids is so out of step with NHS best practice."

Turner claimed that clinicians at the Gender Identity Development Service are "in perpetual conflict with the charity" in her criticism.

She argued: "The NHS protocol for children is 'watchful waiting' but Mermaids pushes for the US 'affirmation' model in which any child who declares that they are trans must be treated as such without examining any possible underlying issues, such as frequently undiagnosed autism, depression or sexual abuse."

English actor Robert Webb
English actor Robert Webb has been questioned about his past criticism of transgender children's charity Mermaids

Webb shared the article when it was published in 2018 and wrote: "This won't make me popular in certain quarters but f*** it – I'm with Janice and I don't say it often enough. Also @boodleoops also @bindelj

"I've talked to some really nice trans people here & they have my solidarity if they want it. But Mermaids sucks."

Webb later deleted the tweet but told The Times earlier this month that he did not regret sharing his views.

He said: "I started to say something, and then I stopped, and that means that everyone can rush in and fill in the blanks.

"'He's a transphobe, he's a motherf*****’. Once you say 'I'm not transphobic, but…' it's a disaster.

"It just seems unlucky that you can't acknowledge that there are going to be competing interests here and there without that becoming, 'You are a bigot.'"

Robert Webb (left) rose to fame with David Mitchell on their comedy show Peep Show
Robert Webb (left) rose to fame with David Mitchell on their comedy show Peep Show

Now during an interview with the NPR podcast Bullseye, Webb was asked by presenter Jesse Thorn about this previous criticism of Mermaids and his recent comments while Webb and his Back co-star David Mitchell promoted the second run of their comedy series airing in the US.

Thorn himself has two gender non-conforming children, one of who identifies as trans.

Webb explained of Turner's article: "I can't even really remember what her specific objections were, but they made sense to me at the time and I retweeted it approvingly.

"There was this feeling that if you criticise a charity, that is or the way the charity operates or its methodology, that is the same as criticising the client base.

"That's like saying if I've got a problem with the way Oxfam has been operating, that it's because I hate poor people in the third world.

"It's kind of like. it's started to feel like saying if you criticise Brexit, it's because you hate Britain, or if you hate Jeremy Corbyn, it's because you hate poor people. It was just a really weird way of looking at it."

Andrew (Robert Webb) & Stephen (David Mitchell) in Back
Mitchell and Webb spoke on the podcast Bullseye to promote their comedy series Back

He added: "The whole debate is really overheated and it’s impossible to really talk about this or say anything even remotely reasonable without what I say being used as a vehicle for another round of defamation and abuse, really.

"So it's not a topic I tend to dive into anymore, at all really."

Thorn then responded saying that it is "scary" for him as he had relied on an organisation called Gender Spectrum when his eldest child came out and they do "many of the same things that Mermaids does".

He added: "So many people don't understand what the best practices are for caring for trans kids and the kinds of criticisms...I think people act in an overheated way because there are a lot of trans people who weren't supported when they were young.

"I know that you had talked about talking to the folks at Mermaids when all this happened, did that happen?"

Robert Webb made clear that his criticism was of the charity Mermaids and not their client base
Robert Webb made clear that his criticism was of the charity Mermaids and not their client base

Webb responded: "No it didn't, no. It just wasn't a conversation I wanted to carry on getting into because the reaction was so strong.

"It was as if I said 'I hate trans children', which of course, I don't.

"Do I have to say… okay, maybe I do. That is not how I feel about the situation.

"It was critical about the way Mermaids was conducting itself."

When Thorn pressed further on his issues with the conduct of Mermaids, Webb responded: "I can't remember, Jesse.

"It was the end of 2018 and it's not something I really want to talk about."

Thorn then asked: "Do you feel like it’s appropriate to affirm kids' gender identities?"

Webb then answered: "Sure, I think it's on a case-by-case basis, but I'm not really an expert.

"You're a parent, you've got first hand experience."

Andrew (Robert Webb) and Stephen (David Mitchell) in Back
Andrew (Robert Webb) and Stephen (David Mitchell) in Back, which is now airing in the US

Thorn thanked Webb for wading into the "thorny thicket" of an issue and Webb declined the opportunity to say anything else on the matter.

Thorn shared the podcast on Tuesday, along with a link to the organisation Gender Spectrum.

He also claimed on Twitter: "As I mentioned, they declined to send us their audio after the recording, so this is a recording of our videoconference.

"Their publicity team asked if we would consider dropping the last segment and re-recording, if Webb and Mitchell agreed. This would be against NPR's ethics code, so we said no.

"We did offer to record additional material in a second interview if Webb felt there was something further that had been left unsaid, but they declined.

"I want to thank NPR and some journalist friends (who I won't tag here) for helping us navigate some waters in which we rarely swim, as well as Bullseye’s producer @KevinFerguson, who had to handle a lot."

Jesse Thorn tweeted about the podcast with Robert Webb on Tuesday (April 13)
Jesse Thorn tweeted about the podcast with Robert Webb on Tuesday (April 13)

Mermaids replied from its official Twitter account to Jesse sharing the podcast, writing: "Thank you for your thoughtful handling of this issue.

"We take some reassurance from Mr Webb's apparent assertion that he now supports affirmative care and accepts he isn't an expert, rightly defering to those with first-hand experience. Love to your family, Jesse."

The Mirror has reached out to representatives of Robert Webb and Mermaids for comment.

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