The openly gay justice minister, Nick Herbert, accidentally used the most offensive swear word in the English language in the House of Commons yesterday. It came just hours after two BBC presenters accidentally used the same word in reference to the culture secretary, Jeremy Hunt.
In a slip of the tongue, Mr Herbert told MPs: “I don’t accept those are c*nts to front line services.”
The speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, retorted: “Opposition members’ hearing is playing tricks with them, they didn’t hear what they thought they heard!”
Mr Herbert replied “I am in very good company!”
The exchange was broadcast on the BBC Parliament channel before the watershed. But it wasn’t the first such use of the word that day.
During the Today programme on BBC Radio 4, James Naughtie intended to trail an upcoming interview with th Mr Hunt.
However, Mr Naughtie muddled the ‘C’ and the ‘H’ which resulted in him saying: “First up, after the news, we’re going to be talking to Jeremy C*nt, the culture secretary.” He instantly corrected himself before struggling with a mixture of a cough and giggles to read the rest of the news headlines.
Mr Naughtie later apologised and blamed the mistake on a classic case of Spoonerism, saying: “Some of you thought it was funny, some of you were frankly offended. All I can say is that occasionally, in live broadcasting, these things happen and I am very sorry to anybody who thought it wasn’t what they wanted to hear over breakfast. Needless to say, neither did I.”
The culture secretary laughed the incident off, posting to Twitter: “they say prepare for anything before going on Today, but that took the biscuit … I was laughing as much as u Jim, or shld I say Dr Spooner” [sic]
But the mistake was repeated by Andrew Marr on another BBC Radio 4 programme, Start the Week.
Mr Marr was discussing Freudian slips as a follow-up to Mr Naughtie’s mistake.
He said: “We’re not going to repeat in quite the terms it happened,” before making exactly the same mistake and again calling the culture secretary “Jeremy C*nt.”