Chris Bryant, the openly gay former Labour foreign office minister and victim of phone hacking, attempted to elicit an apology live on air for an interview conducted by Sky News presenter Kay Burley last year.
During an interview on phone hacking last September, Ms Burley repeatedly questioned Mr Bryant’s claims that phone hacking was endemic in the British newspaper industry. At one point, Mr Bryant called Ms Burley “a bit dim.”
“Kay, you’ll remember that a few months ago you and I had a discussion on this channel [Sky News] and I said that all of this [phone hacking] was endemic in the industry and you attacked me for saying that. I hope you are going to apologise now.
Ms Burley ignored the question and attempted to ask about Gordon and Sarah Brown. Mr Bryant persisted, saying: “Are you going to apologise?”
Laughing, Ms Burley replied: “I’m certainly not going to apologise to you Mr Bryant.”
When the MP asked why not, she said: “I don’t think our viewers are particularly interested in my views.”
Mr Bryant replied: “I think they are, I think they are. They are interested because you have pursued a particular version on your own of what happened here and too many people, I’m afraid, dismissed this story. That’s been one of the problems, too many people have been intimated into not running this story. I think that Sky has been explemnary over this subject over the past few weeks, but I think it is time that you apologised.”
Burley again ignored Mr Bryant to continue her questions about Gordon Brown.
Mr Bryant was attempting to elicit an apology following a heated row with Burley last September during which she appeared to attack him for stating that phone hacking was endemic in the British media.
Burley asked: “Do you have evidence for that?”
Mr Brant replied: “Sorry, for what?”
Burley: “Do you have evidence that it is endemic not only at the News of the World but other newspapers? Pretty strong claim if you don’t.”
Bryant: “Well, the Information Commissioner produced a report which if you had listened to the debate earlier yourself then you would know, or if you had read that report then you would see that he referred to more than 1,000 cases in various different newspapers. I think it was something like 800 – I’ve not got the figures with me now – 800 incidences in the Mail alone.”
Burley: “So you are in a position to have listened to the debate and read the report and as a result you are content to say that on telly.”
Bryant: “I have just said that. You seem to be a bit dim, if you don’t mind me saying so.”
After correcting a later inaccurate claim by Burley where she suggested that Mr Bryant should have changed his PIN number for his voicemail, Mr Bryant said “don’t lie, don’t say what you don’t know madam!”
Burley has been criticised in the past for her interview techniques. She told an electoral reform protester to “go Home and watch it on Sky News” during the coalition negotiation, caused the popstar Peter Andre to cry and asked the wife of Steve Wright, the Ipswich prostitute serial killer if her husband would have killed so many women had the couple enjoyed a better sex life.