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Petronella Wyatt appeared with Women’s Equality Party leader and former political reporter Sophie Walker to talk about their experiences of working in politics, as allegations of sexual harassment continue to rock the chambers.
Wyatt, who is the former deputy editor of the Spectator, told host Michelle Hussein: “There were a couple of men that were a bit gropey. But do you know what? I was flattered.”
“There are a couple of men who were a bit gropey, but I was flattered”
— BBC Radio 4 Today (@BBCr4today) November 3, 2017
Her response was met with shock:
@BBCRadio4 you get worse. Petronella Wyatt felt “flattered” when groped by MPs! And you wonder why people stay silent. I’m shaking with rage
— Hunter Holding (@HunterHolding) November 3, 2017
What the fuck? Ex-Spectator editor Petronella Wyatt on #r4today says she was “flattered” to be around men who were “gropey” in Westminster!?
— Vivid Ricky (@VividRicky) November 3, 2017
So it was Petronella Wyatt who was flattered to be groped by a couple of MPs. Not a view shared by many women who’ve experienced similar.
— Emma (@Emma_Campaigner) November 3, 2017
— Deborah Watson (@DeborahWatson83) November 3, 2017
Wyatt, who is the daughter of the late Labour MP Woodrow Wyatt, also came under fire for suggesting the instances of sexual harassment were partly down to bad manners and a lack of “gallantry”.
“A lot of abuse or sexual harassment is a breach of good manners,” she claimed, adding “women have waived their right to gallantry by saying we’re the same as men”.
Again, the Twitter backlash was fierce.
Petronella Wyatt on @BBCr4today blaming sexual assault on bad manners & feminists “waiving their right to gallantry”. Jesus Christ.
— Paul Batchelor (@MahonConf2014) November 3, 2017
— Yusuf (@yusufgray) November 3, 2017
The irony was not lost when Walker said “women’s voices are being drowned out” – only to be cut off by Wyatt shouting “they’re not being drowned out at all.”
Wyatt also accused Walker of “belittling” the severity of some of the accusations against MPs by ”equating a silly text message or a grope with rape.”
Walker responded to say “it’s all on the same spectrum” when Wyatt again interrupted to say “no, it’s not.”
Many thought her own manners were the ones that could do with some work.
MASSIVE irony of Petronella Wyatt claiming Westminster sexual harassment is down to lack of ‘good manners’ while shouting at Sophie Walker
— Venetia Bridges (@VenetiaBridges) November 3, 2017
@BBCRadio4 Has anyone ruder than Petronella Wyatt ever appeared on Today? And she complains about other people’s lack of manners!
— Weed (@alphaville34) November 3, 2017
— Ian McNee (@IanSMcNee) November 3, 2017
Theresa May has written to John Bercow to set out a new code of conduct for Tory MPs, following a series of allegations relating to sexual harassment at Westminster.