Wednesday 17 January 2018

Jeremy Corbyn told to apologise after he wrongly tells Commons that Belfast terror attack officer has died

Jeremy Corbyn (C) speaks during the weekly Prime Minister's Questions session in the House of Commons in central London. Photo: /AFP/Getty Images
Jeremy Corbyn (C) speaks during the weekly Prime Minister's Questions session in the House of Commons in central London. Photo: /AFP/Getty Images

Claire Williamson

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has been told to apologise after he wrongly told the House of Commons that the PSNI officer shot in north Belfast had died.

The shooting happened at Edenderry filling station on the Crumlin Road at around 7.30pm on Sunday. The community officer was hit three times in the right arm after up to 10 shots were fired.

He remains in a stable condition in hospital.

During Prime Minister's Question Time, Prime Minister Theresa May, opened the weekly session by saying her thoughts were with the family and friends of the officer.

She said: "The PSNI does a superb job in keeping us safe and secure and they have our fullest support."

The opposition leader joined the Prime Minister in commenting on the incident, but wrongly stated that the officer had died.

Mr Corbyn said: "I join the Prime Minister in expressing condolences, I'm sure of the whole House, to the family of the police officer who lost his life over the weekend in Northern Ireland."

Following the gaffe the DUP's Ian Paisley said it was "not, thankfully, the case" that the policeman had died in the shooting .

He added: "For the family and for police officers generally, could we have that corrected by the frontbench spokesman as urgently as possible so as the record does not contain the spurious fact that a police officer was murdered in Belfast."

Commons Speaker John Bercow said there was "no need for any further correction".

"It was an error. I recognise what he said about how upsetting that will have been, but it was a mistake. It has subsequently been corrected."

The Police Federation for Northern Ireland (PFNI) which represents rank and file officers, has called on the Labour leader to apologise.

PFNI Chairman, Mark Lindsay, said: “Frankly, I’m appalled that the Leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition should get this so badly wrong on the floor of the House of Commons.

“It was a jaw-dropping gaffe and he should immediately apologise to the Officer and his family.

“Mr Corbyn was either poorly briefed by his staff or he’s that much out of touch with what is happening. Either way, it’s a shocking error to make and needs to be corrected.

“Our colleague is recovering after the ambush on the Crumlin Road. We welcome the expression of good wishes from the Prime Minister, which preceded Mr Corbyn’s contribution, and which more accurately reflected the mood of the House.

“We have excellent working relationships with a number of MPs and I know they will be appalled and embarrassed by Mr Corbyn’s comment”.

DUP MP Nigel Dodds called it "one of the worst displays of crass ignorance that could be imagined".

"The idea that someone who sees himself as an alternative Prime Minister could be so out of touch to make such a basic and hurtful error is almost unbelievable.”

A spokesman for the Labour leader later said: "He meant to say 'nearly died'. Obviously, the last thing that was intended was any offence."

Belfast Telegraph

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