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Rosie Duffield ‘frit or lazy’ criticism extremely unfair, says Wes Streeting

Labour candidate Rosie Duffield called off a local hustings amid safety concerns (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)
Labour candidate Rosie Duffield called off a local hustings amid safety concerns (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

Wes Streeting has hit out at a Labour peer for calling Rosie Duffield “frit or lazy” after she called off local hustings over safety concerns.

Lord Cashman, a former EastEnders actor and Labour MEP, has apologised after he commented on a social media post about Ms Duffield’s move: “Frit. Or lazy”.

It came after Ms Duffield, a Labour General Election candidate who has been a defender of women’s rights and female-only spaces, said her attendance at local hustings was “impossible” because of “constant trolling”.

Women and equalities minister Kemi Badenoch waded into the row by accusing Labour of “intimidation and abuse” towards its own.

Shadow health secretary Mr Streeting told Times Radio on Sunday: “I strongly disagree with Michael (Cashman).

“That is extremely unfair and I was very concerned Rosie’s not able to participate in hustings and is having to change the way she behaves because of abuse.

“That is wholly intolerable and unacceptable, as is the abuse Nigel Farage has had.

Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting
Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting criticised Lord Cashman’s comments about Rosie Duffield (Jordan Pettitt/PA)

“I count Michael and Rosie as friends and this is exactly the kind of division I’ve been working really hard to try and work through and heal.”

Ms Duffield, who is running for the Canterbury seat on July 4, last week said the “extremely difficult decision” to cancel local hustings was made because the “actions of a few fixated individuals” had affected her “sense of security and wellbeing”.

She told The Times earlier in the week that she has spent £2,000 on bodyguards while campaigning.

Lord Cashman later wrote on X, formerly Twitter: “I apologise unreservedly for a post that I put out regarding the Labour candidate for Canterbury. I fully understand any complaints that will be sent to the Labour Party.”

The debate comes amid a renewed focus on the abuse of politicians on the eight-year anniversary of Jo Cox’s murder.

Women and equalities minister Kemi Badenoch
Women and equalities minister Kemi Badenoch accused Labour of ‘intimidation and abuse’ (Yui Mok/PA)

The Batley and Spen Labour MP was stabbed and shot by a far-right extremist in Birstall, West Yorkshire, on June 16 2016.

Her sister, Kim Leadbeater, condemned violence against candidates after Reform UK leader Mr Farage was attacked, including with a milkshake.

The Labour candidate told Sky News’s Politics Hub With Sophy Ridge: “I think Jo, along with myself and many others, would find some of that behaviour totally and utterly unacceptable.

“Wherever you are on the political spectrum, whatever your views are, there’s no excuse for that abuse, intimidation and threatening behaviour.”

Ms Duffield, who believes that self-identification threatens women’s rights to female-only spaces, previously claimed that she had been given the cold shoulder by the Labour leadership over her views on trans issues.

Last month, she complained that Sir Keir Starmer offered her “no apology” when the two finally spoke after she told a whip she had not been talked to in two-and-a-half years.

Ms Badenoch seized on Labour’s internal dispute to warn voters against opting for the Opposition party at the election.

The Cabinet minister tweeted: “I can’t imagine what it’s like being Rosie in a party where her own colleagues continually attack her, just for standing up for women.

“This is now about more than women’s rights, but how a party manages internal disagreement. Instead of healthy debate, it’s intimidation and abuse.

“If this is what they do to their own, imagine what they will do to our country.”