Michael Fabricant has apologised for suggesting teachers and nurses enjoyed lockdown drinks in staff-rooms.
Conservative MP Michael Frabricant has apologised for suggesting teachers and nurses enjoyed a “quiet drink” in staff-rooms during lockdown.
He had made the comments in a BBC interview while defending Boris Johnson over so-called Partygate allegations.
In a letter to the NAHT school leaders’ union, the Lichfield MP said it was not his intention to demoralise or offend anyone.
NAHT general secretary Paul Whiteman said he welcomed the apology.
Mr Fabricant said in the interview earlier this month that he did not think the prime minister knew he was breaking the law when he attended a gathering in Downing Street in June 2020 to celebrate his 56th birthday.
“He thought just like many teachers and nurses who after a very long shift would go back to the staff-room and have a quiet drink,” he added.
“Never the case”
Nursing and teaching bodies went on to heavily criticise the MP, describing his comments as “wholly inaccurate”.
In the letter published on the NAHT website Mr Fabricant said he did not mean to cause offence “and I apologise if I have genuinely done so”, while accepting any after-work drinks remained among a small minority.
“I applaud the work of nurses, GPs, and others in the medical and teaching professions who worked long hours under difficult, and sometimes impossible, conditions during the height of the Covid pandemic to keep us all safe and to educate our children,” he added.
“My error in one part of the programme – which was repeated on TV – was to give the impression this was general practice by nurses and teachers – this was never the case.”
Mr Fabricant also called for more “tolerance” for everyone who had been in a “stressful” work environment during lockdown and had met with colleagues afterwards.
In response, Mr Whiteman said he was “pleased” the MP had expressed regret for his comments which were “unjustified, unhelpful and damaging” and added that the organisation did not recognise the picture Mr Fabricant painted of teachers during lockdown.
At its annual conference in Telford this weekend, the NAHT will discuss condemning Mr Fabricant’s comments and applauding the “swift public intervention” of Mr Whiteman, who wrote to Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi to criticise the remarks.