Labour MP Chris Bryant says Daily Mail journalist took bets on his suicide after Gaydar photo leak
Labour MP Chris Bryant has claimed a Daily Mail journalist told him people were “taking bets” on his suicide in 2003.
Mr Bryant, who has represented Rhondda in Wales since 2001, was lambasted in the press after a photo of him in just underwear emerged from Gaydar.
Sections of the press heavily criticised him for the nearly naked photo and for using the gay dating website as an MP.
Speaking in a debate on new grievance procedures to deal with complaints of sexual harassment today, Bryant said a journalist from the Daily Mail had taunted him about the possibility he would kill himself after the story was published.
The former Labour minister said: “My biggest anxiety of all is that you have to have justice for both sides.
“If you just have trial by newspapers and trial by front page that is not justice.
“That is not justice for young people, for the people who feel they have been abused and want to make allegations. Nor is it justice for those at the other end.
“I remember in 2003 a journalist from the Mail on Sunday coming up to me in the Strangers’ Bar and saying ‘we are all taking bets on when you will commit suicide.
He alleges the journalist then said: “‘I hope it’ll be before Christmas’.”
He later clarified on Twitter that the journalist had been from the Daily Mail, not Mail on Sunday.
Commons leader Andrea Leadsom, who is looking into reforms on dealing with complaints of sexual harassment, said she was “sorry to hear” about Mr Bryant’s alleged experience.
Mrs Leadsom said: “That is really, truly appalling and I think we all recognise there is a challenge here with living in the public eye and often allegations which are either spurious, or indeed malicious, or designed to hurt can be made at individuals and that’s not right.
“And much as as we are seeking here to provide justice to those who work here and at all levels, whether they are young and extremely inexperienced or whether they have been here a long time, whether they are LGBT plus or straight, or whatever their race or ethnic background, we are seeking to ensure that there is justice for all.”
The Daily Mail said the claim was a “scurrilous smear” and he should withdraw it immediately.
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A spokesman for the Daily Mail said: “This is not the first time Mr Bryant – who is a prominent supporter of [campaign group for greater press accountability] Hacked Off and has a long history of hostility to the Mail – has peddled this scurrilous smear.
“He attempted to include it in his evidence to the Leveson Inquiry [into press ethics], but not only did the journalist concerned categorically deny making the remark, he denied ever having met Mr Bryant.
“The identity of the journalist, who left the Mail many years ago, was redacted from Mr Bryant’s evidence by the inquiry.
“It is utterly disgraceful that Mr Bryant should use parliamentary privilege to repeat an allegation that was rejected by the Leveson Inquiry.
“He should withdraw it immediately.”