Belfast Telegraph

Unionist peer Lord Maginnis has 'no recollection' of calling MP 'queer', despite audio recording

Mark Edwards

By Mark Edwards

Northern Ireland peer Lord Maginnis has said he has "no recollection" of calling a gay MP "queer", despite a recording of him using the term being released.

SNP MP Hannah Bardell told the House of Commons she will report Northern Ireland peer Lord Maginnis to the police for an alleged hate crime after he used the term.

She accused Lord Maginnis of verbally abusing security staff on the parliamentary estate after he forgot his security pass.

The HuffPost news website reported that Lord Maginnis did not deny Ms Bardell's claims and quoted him saying: "Queers like Ms Bardell don't particularly annoy me. OK, she's got her cheap publicity out of it".

Speaking to the BBC, however, Lord Maginnis said he had "no recollection" of using the term.

The HuffPost journalist who quoted the unionist peer as saying the word "queer" later released an audio recording where Lord Maginnis can be heard saying the word.

Speaking during business questions, Ms Bardell told MPs: "I'm sorry to say that the member from the other place (the House of Lords) who I have complained about has now launched a homophobic attack on me in the press.

Lord Ken Maginnis
Lord Ken Maginnis

"This will be reported to the police and I know that I and others consider this to be a hate crime."

The Metropolitan Police confirmed on Thursday evening that it was investigating an allegation of hate crime at the House of Commons.

A spokeswoman said: "The Met's Parliamentary Liaison and Investigation Team is looking into an allegation of hate crime at the House of Commons made to them on Thursday January 9."

Addressing claims he was “abusive” to parliament security staff, the independent unionist peer, speaking on Radio Ulster’s Talkback, claimed he had nothing to apologise for but admitted he had “lost his temper” when a security guard prevented him from entering the building unless he showed his security pass.

Lord Maginnis (82) told the BBC that due to a disability he struggles to stand in the one place and that he had argued with security staff.

He said: "Eventually with some others who were getting through the door, I got through the door. That was alright. The next thing this Scottish lassie, I forget her name, I had never seen her before, she was there and she stood up in the House of Commons and made a scene about my being bad tempered, which was quite true. It is very strange, she must have an ulterior motive, I haven't discovered what that is yet."

Lord Maginnis admitted telling the security guard he was "crooked" but said that he will not apologise for his conduct.

"I didn't say that I overstepped the mark. I am not used to being tramped all over by anybody, whether a member of staff or a colleague. I have no intention of apologising. The chap brought it on himself," he said.

Ms Bardell, speaking on Talkback, said the peer's behaviour was "wholly unacceptable".

"Since this has happened he has made homophobic comments about me which I am having to report to the police," she said.

"Not only has he not been unwilling to apologise just because somebody has stood up to his bullying behaviour, his response is to attack me personally and it is something that is being considered by some, including myself, as a hate crime."

Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg called Lord Maginnis's language "disgraceful".

He told MPs: "The attack on the honourable lady was unutterably disgraceful and she is clearly owed an apology by the noble lord for what he said about her.

"I think everybody who heard about that was shocked by the comments that he is reported to have made and has not denied.

"I think they are really appalling and I know we are not allowed to criticise members of the other House, the other place, except on a specific motion, but I think under these circumstances we are allowed to stretch the rules."

On Wednesday, Ms Bardell, MP for Livingston, outlined the alleged incident to Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle in a point of order.

She said: "Yesterday, on re-entering the building for the first time after Christmas, I witnessed one of the worst cases of abuse of security staff that I have seen in my time here.

"One of the members of the other place - who I will name so as not to incriminate anybody else: Lord Ken Maginnis - had forgotten his pass, something we've all been guilty of.

"However, instead of taking the advice of the security staff - who, as we all know, are here for our security and our safety - he proceeded to verbally abuse and shout at both the members of staff, calling them 'crooked', saying 'did they not know who he was, he'd been here 46 years', and refusing to take the advice and assistance of both myself, the security staff and the police that then attended."

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