MP apologises for comments to pregnant C4 journalist
THE family of a lawyer detained in Bangladesh has allegedly been harassed by police after a Labour MP refused to raise his case with Sheikh Hasina, her aunt who has been the country’s prime minister since 2009.
Tulip Siddiq was asked by a Channel 4 News reporter whether she intended to campaign for the release of Ahmad bin Quasem, a British-trained lawyer who vanished in Bangladesh last year.
Ms Siddiq warned a reporter to “be very careful what you’re saying – I’m a British MP” before telling a pregnant journalist: “Hope you have a great birth, because child labour is hard.” Following the bad-tempered exchange, police visited the home of Mr Quasem’s mother in Bangladesh. The visit came before Channel 4 had broadcast its report on Monday evening, Michael Polak, Mr Quasem’s British lawyer, said.
Then, on Tuesday, armed police raided the home of Mr Quasem’s wife and sister. Ms Siddiq’s office did not respond to questions over whether Ms Siddiq had spoken to anyone in Bangladesh after the approach by Channel 4. Mr Polak told The Daily Telegraph: “I was in Bangladesh in November. I spoke to a number of diplomats from various countries and they told me Tulip is the key to getting Ahmad released.
“It’s not just her aunt. Her mother and brother are in the ruling party committee. Her paternal uncle is a security adviser. My sole aim here is for him to be released.” Yesterday, Ms Siddiq apologised for her behaviour, saying her remarks were “ill-judged”.
She added: “The fact that some members of my family are involved in politics in Bangladesh has long been a matter of public record that I have not hidden from. That said, I have no capability or desire to influence politics in Bangladesh.”
Tulip Siddiq got hot under the collar when Channel 4 News interviewed her about a lawyer who has gone missing in Bangladesh. The MP later said it was ‘an ill-judged attempt to deal with what I felt was a hostile situation’