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Tim Loughton to apologise to Sarah Teather
11:33am Wednesday 18th September 2013 in News
A Conservative MP will apologise to a former Liberal Democrat colleague after suggesting she was a poor families’ minister because she does not have children.
Tim Loughton, who served alongside Sarah Teather at the Department for Education (DfE) until they were both sacked a year ago, claimed she failed to support married couples as she “doesn’t really believe in family”.
Speaking to Tory activists, the former children’s minister, who is MP for East Worthing and Shoreham, complained that she frustrated Tory plans to bring in a tax break for married couples.
But after receiving criticism, Mr Loughton has said he will apologise to the 39-year-old, adding his words had been distorted.
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But Lev Eakins, of Brighton and Hove Liberal Democrats, said: “He should be ashamed of himself – these are outrageous and spiteful remarks which are beneath anyone, let alone an MP.
“I hope he retracts and makes an apology.”
According to reports, Mr Loughton said: “The person who was actually in charge of family policy amongst the ministerial team at the DfE was Sarah Teather.
“Which was a bit difficult because she doesn’t really believe in family. She certainly didn’t produce one of her own. So it became a bit of a family-free zone. I think that is a huge disappointment.”
Mr Loughton, a father-of-three, refused to comment on the speech when asked yesterday.
However, writing on Twitter he denied any “personal attack”, adding: “My criticism was lack of Lib Dem family policy not of Sarah Teather personally who I always respected.
“I will of course apologise to Sarah for the comments that have been reported and were certainly not intended or indeed said in that way.”
Lib Dem minster Jo Swinson said Ms Teather was a “brilliant” minister, adding: “Using someone’s lack of children as an insult is shameful, crass and, frankly, disgusting. It reflects far more on him than on Sarah.”
It comes in the same week that the Lib Dem conference voted to oppose Tory plans for a married couples’ tax break as “discriminatory, unnecessary and costly”.
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