February 3, 2022 11.49 am This story is over 21 months old

Grimsby MP backs PM’s controversial Jimmy Savile slur against Labour leader

As Boris Johnson continues to apologise for lockdown parties

Grimsby’s Conservative MP has claimed Jimmy Savile was one of the town’s voters’ top issues last week, as she backed the Prime Minister for bringing up a conspiracy theory involving the sex offender and the Labour leader.

The PM repeated the discredited claim on Monday that Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, a former head of the CPS, chose not to prosecute Savile, as Boris Johnson apologised for the Downing Street lockdown parties.

However, Grimsby MP Lia Nici – one of the PM’s staunchest defenders – has claimed on Radio 5 Live the issue was all over Grimsby’s social media the week before. While another MP on the programme quipped her story didn’t have ‘the air of truth’.

Sir Keir Starmer was head of the CPS when the decision was taken by police not to prosecute the sex attacker, but fact checkers have found he had nothing to do with it.

Speaking to presenter Nicky Campbell yesterday, the Grimsby MP said she didn’t blame the Prime Minister for bringing up the false claim again.

“It is appropriate to question whether Sir Keir has the ability to lead,” Ms Nici said.

“On Friday when Sir Keir popped up in Grimsby, this was absolutely, utterly the number one issue for local people on social media.

“Why is he coming here? We don’t want him. We don’t want him to be the Labour party leader. He did this with the CPS. He should be ashamed.”

Nicky Campbell asked her several times to repeat what she was saying.

Nicky Campbell: “Was that after Boris Johnson had said this?”

MP Lia Nici: “It was on the Friday before.”

Nicky Campbell: “People on the street and the doorstep in Grimsby were going on about Jimmy Savile?”

MP Lia Nici: “They were, absolutely. People have not forgotten about that.”

Nicky Campbell: “Jimmy Savile was essentially the talk of the town last Friday?”

MP Lia Nici: “Yes, absolutely.”

After a surprised pause, Labour MP Jim McMarn said: “I’m not going to say that Lia isn’t being honest, but you get the general sense for these things when it’s got the air of truth and this doesn’t whatsoever.”

Members of Johnson’s own party have criticised him for attacking the Labour leader in that way.

Conservative MP Julian Smith was among those who said he should withdraw the comments.

There are now national reports that Boris Johnson has retracted his statement, saying he “totally understands that he had nothing to do personally with those decisions.”