A Labour MP with deep family connections to Bangladesh’s repressive government was caught on camera angrily threatening a pregnant journalist, and appeared to imply that it was racist for a news crew to ask if she would help the kidnapped man.
Tulip Siddiq MP has been accused of “hypocrisy” and dishonesty after she was approached at a demonstration where she was urging the release of a British citizen held by the Iranian government.
However, she denied knowledge of the separate case of British-trained barrister and member of the British bar Ahmad bin Quasem, allegedly kidnapped by Bangladeshi government agents last year, and then insisted it was not her responsibility to help him, as he was not her constituent.
In her belated response to the controversy, Ms. Saddiq said she “had no desire to be influencing politics in Bangladesh”, and seemed to imply Channel 4 was bigoted to suggest she could use her Bangladeshi connections to help someone in the country. “I am a British MP… I am not Bangladeshi,” she said.
However, she has repeatedly positively remarked about Bangladesh’s government and commented on politics there, and in 2015, told a Bangladeshi-language news website she would use her influence to help people in the UK and Bangladesh.
“You don’t have to be in Bangladesh or England. I try to help Bangladeshis in England in whatever way it is possible,” she added.
In the interview, she became increasingly defensive, telling Channel 4 News reporters to “be very careful” before threatening a pregnant producer. “Thanks for coming Daisy, hope you have a great birth because child labour is hard! See you!” she snarled.
Seemingly as a result of @c4news programme yesterday evening on Arman, my abducted barrister client, a large group of armed police have turned up at his mother's house @TulipSiddiq @daisyayliffe @alextomo .
— Michael Polak (@MichaelPolakLaw) November 29, 2017
We told nobody about the confrontation with Tulip Siddiq beyond C4N staff involved – sonjow did Bangladesh security forces know?
— alex thomson (@alextomo) November 29, 2017
Ms. Siddiq has been repeatedly informed of Mr. Quasem’s case, whose father is was a prominent leader of the extremist, Islamist group Jamaat-e-Islami.
Her aunt is the current prime minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina, and her maternal grandfather is Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, a founding father and the first President of Bangladesh.
Despite being an outspoken proponent of “social justice” she has continued to praise the government and party of her aunt, even describing herself as a “spokesperson” of the regime, which is accused of human rights abuses.
Ms. Siddiq even accompanied the Bangladeshi premier on a trip to Moscow to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The MP is also a member of the Women’s and Equalities Committee, and questions are being asked about her role there, after her seemingly sexist and aggressive comments to the pregnant woman.
Ms. Siddiq did not initially issue an apology and instead allegedly reported journalists to the police for questioning her. She later released a statement on Twitter where she offered an apology and explanation for her remarks, stating: “I want to apologise unreservedly for my comments to Channel 4’s producer, which were an offhand and ill-judged attempt to deal with what I felt was a hostile situation. I would never want to upset her and I hope she accepts my apology.”
2/2 Tonight she responded that she has complained to the police about @Channel4News. No apology. Tomorrow we will place the entire contiguous footage of our exchange with @TulipSiddiq who’s been asked repeatedly about the case of a disappeared lawyer in #Bangladesh. #welovedaisy pic.twitter.com/yKecXBWTaW
— Ben de Pear (@bendepear) November 28, 2017
Tory MP Nadine Dorries said: “So utterly shocking/upsetting. Her aunt is Prime Minister of Bangladesh – corrupt [government] with huge human rights issues.
“She was asked to use [her] influence to help free a British citizen what she said in response needs to be known. What kind of woman is she???”
Andrew Bridgen, a Tory MP added: “Her hypocrisy is quite shocking. When she was pregnant she brought much criticism on those who she thought were less than understanding of her situation and this was much publicised. Clearly she has questions to answer about her conduct.”
Ms. Saddiq became pregnant shortly after being elected as an MP, and spent much of her time campaigning against the “sexist” conventions of government that she said discriminated against women.
The MP also campaigned vigorously for U.S. President Donald J. Trump to be banned from the UK. She said she would be “tearing” his reputation to “shreds” in Parliament.