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Sunak considers matter of Cleverly’s date rape joke ‘closed’, says No 10

27 Dec 2023 4 minute read
Home Secretary James Cleverly. Photo Jordan Pettitt/PA Wire

The Prime Minister considers the matter of Home Secretary James Cleverly joking about spiking his wife’s drink with a date rape drug “closed”, Downing Street said.

A spokeswoman for Rishi Sunak could not say whether he had spoken to the Home Secretary since the Cabinet minister reportedly made the remarks at a Downing Street reception.

She highlighted the “action” the Government had taken in recent weeks on the issue of spiking when asked by reporters about the backlash Mr Cleverly had faced from date rape victims and women’s rights groups following the comments.

Mr Cleverly told female guests at a No 10 event before Christmas that “a little bit of Rohypnol in her drink every night” was “not really illegal if it’s only a little bit”, the Sunday Mirror reported.

‘Sedated’

The Home Secretary also laughed that the secret to a long marriage was ensuring your spouse was “someone who is always mildly sedated so she can never realise there are better men out there”.

The Home Secretary met his wife Susie at university and the couple have two children.

He has since apologised, via his spokesman, for making an “ironic joke”.

But women’s rights group the Fawcett Society said the comments were “sickening” and called for Mr Cleverly to resign.

That call was echoed by Gina Miller, an anti-Brexit campaigner and head of the True and Fair Party, who said she was “often drugged” in a previous abusive relationship.

“Some topics are off limits when it comes to jokes,” she tweeted.

“Women need men as allies to help end this evil — not joke about it.”

Spiking

A spokeswoman for the Prime Minister told reporters on Wednesday: “You saw, and it was right, that the Home Secretary apologised for what I understand to be comments made during a private conversation.

“The Prime Minister considers the matter closed, and he and the Home Secretary are focused on the action the Government is taking to tackle spiking and protect women and girls.”

Conversations at Downing Street receptions are usually understood to be “off the record”, but the Sunday Mirror decided to break that convention because of Mr Cleverly’s position and the subject matter.

Mr Cleverly’s Home Office is in charge of tackling incidents of spiking — when someone puts drugs into another’s drink or directly into their body without their knowledge or consent.

Mr Sunak’s spokeswoman, when asked whether the Prime Minister was concerned about the type of message the remarks might give to victims of spiking, reiterated that the British leader and Mr Cleverly were focused on taking action to crack down on the behaviour.

“That is why we made sure that existing laws recognise the threat that spiking poses to women and girls,” she continued.

Mr Cleverly has previously described tackling violence against women and girls as a “personal priority” and called spiking a “perverse” crime.

Legislation

Ministers have pledged to modernise the language used in legislation to make clear spiking is a crime and announced a series of other measures as part of a crackdown.

But they stopped short of making spiking a specific offence.

Between May 2022 and April 2023, there were 6,732 reports of spiking in England and Wales – including 957 reported incidents of needle spiking.

On average, police receive 561 reports of spiking a month, with the majority being made by women typically after incidents in or near bars and nightclubs, according to a Home Office report.

It is not the first time Mr Cleverly has talked himself into trouble since taking over the role from the controversial Suella Braverman just over six weeks ago.

He was forced to apologise last month after swearing in Parliament.

The senior Conservative admitted calling a Labour MP “shit” in a Commons heckle, but denied describing Alex Cunningham’s Stockton North constituency as a “shithole”.

Mr Cleverly’s colourful use of language was also highlighted when shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper claimed he had privately described the Rwanda asylum plan as “batshit” – a term he said he did not remember using.

The Home Secretary was given the crucial law and order role by Mr Sunak in the reshuffle which saw Lord Cameron replace him as Foreign Secretary in November.


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Jeff
Jeff
2 months ago

Yeah. To be expected. This is something Sunak approves basically is what I read. Meaning the Conservative Party is happy with this sort of language. They have form.

All the women in the Tory party happy with this? Nah, they are just piling the pegs on their noses.

Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
2 months ago

Sunak has no choice but to try and shut this one down before he has to admit having a third consecutive unfit for office Home Secretary and maybe have to endure another ass whipping by election.

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