A weekly newspaper’s editor has urged Boris Johnson to apologise for past remarks about child abuse after the Prime Minister was left “rattled” by a question from one of his reporters.
Rotherham Advertiser journalist David Parker, pictured, quizzed Mr Johnson about past comments he made in an LBC radio interview, in which he stated £60m had been “spaffed up the wall” on an investigation into historic child abuse.
David asked the PM if this was something he still believed while the Tory leader was in Rotherham for the Convention of the North conference, which was attended by around 1,000 people.
His question prompted Mr Johnson to deny he had ever made the remark, but video footage of him using the phrase in relation to historic child abuse investigations has since been widely shared online.
The Advertiser’s editor has now called on Mr Johnson to apologise, describing his answer as an “insult” to the victims of child sexual exploitation (CSE) in Rotherham and elsewhere.
It is understood David was told the PM wanted to take a question from a local journalist during a Q&A session at the conference.
He asked Mr Johnson: “A few months ago, you said in a radio interview that local police forces were spaffing money up the wall on investigations into historic CSE. Do you still believe they are?”
Mr Johnson replied: “Well, that’s actually not what I said, but what I certainly can say is all such investigations, certainly here, are extremely important.
“But the point I was making is that we do need to be backing our police to be fighting crime and that’s why we are investing in 20,000 police out on the street and putting about a billion more into policing.”
In his interview in March, he had said: “I think an awful lot of money, an awful lot of police time, now goes into these historic offences and all this malarkey and you know £60m I saw has been spaffed up the wall on some investgation into historic child abuse? What on earth is that going to do to protect the public now?”
Reporter – You said that police forces were spaffing money up the wall on investigating historic child abuse.
Boris Johnson – That's not what I said.
LBC interview – £60million was being spaffed up the wall.. pic.twitter.com/lF56O8tx20
— Haggis_UK #FBPE ?? ?? (@Haggis_UK) September 13, 2019
Manchester Evening News politics and investigations editor Jen Williams, who also attended the conference, said Mr Johnson had been “rattled” by David’s question.
Advertiser editor Andrew Mosley told HTFP: “The question seems to have brought about quite a bit of national interest and reaction.
“When he said what he did it offended a lot of people and there are 1,500 victims in Rotherham who do not think that the money has been spaffed against the wall.
“Plenty of government money has been spaffed against the wall, but I don’t think anything spent on investigating what has gone on in this town counts among that.
“Boris Johnson should apologise, but he very rarely does. It’s an insult to the survivors of CSE, Rotherham as a whole and anyone who has been through the horrors of what the victims suffered.”