Home Secretary James Cleverly admits date rape joke may have ‘distracted’ from work to tackle spiking | Politics News

Home Secretary James Cleverly has made a personal apology for a date rape joke and admitted it “potentially distracted” from the government’s work to tackle drink spiking.

Just before Christmas, it emerged the home secretary had made what his spokesperson described as an “ironic joke” at a Downing Street reception about putting a date rape drug in his wife’s drink, hours after the Home Office announced plans to crack down on spiking.

Mr Cleverly told female guests “a little bit of Rohypnol in her drink every night” was “not really illegal if it’s only a little bit”, the Sunday Mirror reported.

The cabinet minister also laughed that the secret to a long marriage was ensuring your spouse was “someone who is always mildly sedated so she can never realise there are better men out there”.

He faced calls to resign for what was labelled a “sickening” comment, but after issuing an apology through his spokesperson, Downing Street said it considered the matter closed.

James Cleverly and his wife Susannah Cleverly arrive to attend a state dinner in honor of Britain's King Charles and Queen Camilla at the Chateau de Versailles (Versailles Palace) in Versailles
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James Cleverly and his wife Susannah Cleverly

Nonetheless, Mr Cleverly was challenged about the comments on Sky News’ Breakfast with Kay Burley. He said: “It was a joke that I made. And of course, you know, I regret it and I apologised immediately. To me that apology is heartfelt.”

After being pressed on the issue, the home secretary admitted he may have “distracted” from the government’s work to tackle drink spiking.

He said: “I’m sorry because it’s clearly caused hurt and that’s the last thing I wanted to do. It potentially distracted from the work that we were doing to tackle spiking, to help predominately who are the victims of spiking. And I regret that.

“But I’m absolutely determined to continue the work which I’ve been doing for years both as foreign secretary and straight away as home secretary.”

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He defended his record, noting he was “the first home secretary to put forward legislation to toughen our ability to deal with spiking”.

“My first visit as home secretary was to an investigation team investigating violence against women and girls,” he said. “When I was foreign secretary, I set a target that 80% of our aid has to go demonstrably have a positive effect for women and girls.”

He also said his wife, Susie, was “very honest in terms of her feedback” when the story emerged.

Mr Cleverly had been sharply criticised by a senior Tory MP who told Sky News last week the comment was “misogynistic” and “very ill-judged”.

Dame Caroline Dinenage said: “I think it was a very ill-judged comment. But I mean, I think James has owned that comment and apologised.

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Cleverly date rape joke ‘silly’ but ‘let’s move on’

“I think he understands and actually anybody who follows James on social media will see how deeply in love with his wife he is and what a wonderful relationship they have.

“So you know, I think that he’s apologised, let’s move on.”

The conversation in which the home secretary reportedly made the comment was at a Downing Street reception where conversations are usually understood to be off the record.

However, the Sunday Mirror decided to break that convention because of Mr Cleverly’s position and the subject matter.

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