Cameron 'sorry' for Tourette's jibe
David Cameron said he was "very sorry" if he offended anyone by describing Commons heckling by Ed Balls as like "having someone with Tourette's sitting opposite you".
The Prime Minister said his jibe at the shadow chancellor, in an interview with the Sunday Telegraph, had been made "off the cuff".
It sparked an angry backlash from disability campaigners who said it showed a lack of understanding of the inherited neurological condition.
"I was speaking off the cuff and if I offended anyone of course I am very sorry about that. That was not my intention at all," Mr Cameron told BBC1's Andrew Marr Show.
The lesson he had to learn however, he suggested, was how to "tune out" barracking from opponents during noisy debates in the chamber.
"It's a lesson for me that in the Commons I have to try to tune out the noise and try to concentrate on trying to answer the question."
Speaking about Mr Balls, whose gestures and comments aimed at the premier have become a feature of his weekly question time session. Mr Cameron told the newspaper: "He just annoys me,"
"But I'm very bad, in the House of Commons, at not getting distracted, and the endless, ceaseless banter, it's like having someone with Tourette's permanently sitting opposite you."
Labour MP Ian Lucas said it was a "very nasty and ignorant comment" and campaigners called on people to sign a petition complaining at Tourette Syndrome being the butt of jokes.
The petition, set up before Mr Cameron made his comment, complains that the term "Tourette's" is often used humorously to describe any apparent inability to control sounds and movements.