Labour frontbencher apologises over Richard Desmond ‘puppet master’ tweet

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Labour frontbencher apologises over Richard Desmond ‘puppet master’ tweet

Steve Reed described as 'inappropriate' his deleted social media post suggesting the Conservative Party donor might be a 'puppet master for the entire Tory cabinet'

Richard Desmond
Richard Desmond

Shadow communities secretary Steve Reed has apologised over a deleted tweet suggesting the Conservative Party donor Richard Desmond might be a “puppet master for the entire Tory cabinet.”

“I want to apologise unreservedly for the language in the tweet I posted on Saturday,” the Labour frontbencher wrote on Twitter on Monday afternoon.

“It was inappropriate and as soon as I realised my error I deleted it,” he added.

Desmond has been at the centre of a planning application row involving the communities secretary Robert Jenrick’s support for a £1 billion development in east London backed by the property developer and former media mogul. 

Reed’s deleted tweet, published on 4 July, read: “Is millionaire former porn-baron Desmond the puppet-master for the entire Tory cabinet? @Robert Jenrick @PritiPatel.”

Tweeting prior to Reed’s apology, the Conservative MP Nicola Richards was among those calling on the Labour Party to take action against Reed, as she shared a copy of a letter addressed to the party leader Keir Starmer.

She cited Starmer’s decision to remove Rebecca Long-Bailey from the Labour front bench last month for sharing an interview which appeared to link George Floyd’s death to claims U.S. police had learned tactics from Israeli forces.

Starmer told radio listeners earlier on Monday that he had not seen the deleted tweet but would speak to Reed after his interview.

The Labour Party has been approached for comment.

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