Tory MP Tim Loughton apologises after criticising Sarah Teather for failing to "produce" a family

Former education minister claimed the Lib Dem MP was a poor families minister because she "didn't produce one of her own".

Update: Loughton has belatedly apologised, while still bizarrely claiming that his comments were misrepresented by the media.

Conservative MP Tim Loughton's repugnant suggestion that Sarah Teather was a poor families minister because she failed to "produce" one of her own has rightly been greeted with outrage. The Telegraph reports that the former Tory education minister told last weekend's Conservative Renewal conference:

The person who was actually in charge of family policy amongst the ministerial team at the DfE was Sarah Teather. Which was a bit difficult because she doesn't really believe in family. She certainly didn't produce one of her own. So it became a bit of a family-free zone. I think that is a huge disappointment.

But responding to criticism on Twitter, Loughton has refused to apologise, feigning disbelief at the anger he has attracted.

Unbelievably, he went on to blame "some journo" for "distorting my comments".

If the Tories want this avoid becoming an even more toxic story, they would be wise to bring Loughton to heel now.

Former children's minister and Liberal Democrat MP for Brent Central Sarah Teather. Photograph: Getty Images.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Quiz: Can you identify fake news?

The furore around "fake" news shows no sign of abating. Can you spot what's real and what's not?

Hillary Clinton has spoken out today to warn about the fake news epidemic sweeping the world. Clinton went as far as to say that "lives are at risk" from fake news, the day after Pope Francis compared reading fake news to eating poop. (Side note: with real news like that, who needs the fake stuff?)

The sweeping distrust in fake news has caused some confusion, however, as many are unsure about how to actually tell the reals and the fakes apart. Short from seeing whether the logo will scratch off and asking the man from the market where he got it from, how can you really identify fake news? Take our test to see whether you have all the answers.

 

 

In all seriousness, many claim that identifying fake news is a simple matter of checking the source and disbelieving anything "too good to be true". Unfortunately, however, fake news outlets post real stories too, and real news outlets often slip up and publish the fakes. Use fact-checking websites like Snopes to really get to the bottom of a story, and always do a quick Google before you share anything. 

Amelia Tait is a technology and digital culture writer at the New Statesman.