United Kingdom

Tory MP sorry for saying 'a bomb' should be planted in Labour politician's office

A veteran Tory MP has apologised for saying 'a bomb' should be planted in a female Labour politician's office, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.

On the eve of Labour's party conference in Brighton, James Gray made the comment about Anneliese Dodds, the shadow women and equalities minister and Labour Party chair.

A Tory MP said: 'I know many Conservative women MPs were very upset by the comment.

'Bombs around conference season bring back very bad memories for anyone in politics.'

James Gray, who has represented North Wiltshire since 1997, said he regrets sending the message. 'It was a foolish remark' he said, adding: 'I meant no offence and hope none was taken.' 

After being contacted by the MoS, Mr Gray, who has represented North Wiltshire since 1997, said he regrets sending the message. 'It was a foolish remark' he said, adding: 'I meant no offence and hope none was taken.'

In the exchange, Rob Largan, Conservative MP for High Peak, had asked colleagues in a Tory WhatsApp group: 'Does anybody know where Anneliese Dodds' Commons office is based? I need to deliver something to her office.' Mr Gray replied: 'A bomb, perhaps?'

It is understood a number of female MPs are planning to raise the comment with Conservative Party headquarters, in the context of violence against women and memories of the IRA's 1984 bombing of the Grand Hotel in Brighton, during conference.

The target of the bomb was Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who survived the attack. Five people were killed and many more were injured, including Lord Tebbit, then Trade Secretary, and his wife.

Mr Gray said he has deleted the offending message since.

Ms Dodds, the former shadow Chancellor, last month called for the Parliamentary Standards commissioner to investigate Mr Gray over his private interests. 

Ms Dodds, the former shadow Chancellor, last month called for the Parliamentary Standards commissioner to investigate Mr Gray over his private interests

It came after The Mail on Sunday revealed Mr Gray was taking money from a crisis-communications firm to coach its corporate clients for their appearances at Commons Select committees.

On his MPs' register of interests, Mr Gray said he earned £550 'for training witnesses coming before a select committee hearing' in July.

He'd received £550 in February for preparing a witness to go before a Public Accounts Committee hearing.

The MP refused to clarify which witnesses he coached and for which committee appearances. Nor will he say if he approached committee members on behalf of his clients.

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