Labour MP Barry Gardiner criticised for breaking social distancing rules at Black Lives Matter protest

A Labour MP has been criticised by a member of his own party for his “dangerous” decision to ignore social distancing guidelines at a Black Lives Matter protest.

Barry Gardiner, the MP for Brent North, tweeted on Wednesday that he decided to “take a knee with thousands of brave young people” outside the Houses of Parliament.

He admitted in the tweet that he was ignoring social distancing advice which he had been adhering to since March.

Shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy told Sky News on Thursday that he should “acknowledge” his mistake and “correct” it.

Ms Nandy said: “I don’t think it was right. I think it was quite dangerous to break the social distancing measures… and I think it was wrong for a member of parliament to be out there overtly saying they were not going to observe social distancing measures.”

She continued: “I hope he has reflected on that and decided to correct that, because we can’t give the impression that social distancing at this stage doesn’t matter.

“He’s not on the front bench anymore, so I think the best thing to do would be for him to acknowledge he got that wrong and correct it.”

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis also criticised Mr Gardiner on Thursday morning.

The Conservative MP for Great Yarmouth said: “I would say to Barry Gardiner what I would to anybody else.

“We have all got to use our good common sense and follow the guidelines… it’s not just in the interests of others, it’s in the interest of us as individuals.”

Mr Gardiner defended his actions in a statement on the Labour Party website.

He wrote: “The number of people protesting made it impossible to observe the social distancing rules which I have strictly observed since March.

“I know how much people have suffered to keep each other safe and I apologise to them for the hurt my failure to observe the rules has caused.

“On Tuesday evening I received a negative test result. I am therefore confident that I did not infect anyone with whom I came into contact.”

“I know I had an obligation to set an example. The rules are important in overcoming this epidemic and I do not want my action to undermine people’s willingness to maintain social distancing.”

He added: “The anger generated by my breach of the social distancing rules must not be allowed to detract from the vital message that Black Lives Matter and that we all have an obligation to fight racism. The killing of George Floyd must be a catalyst for action.”

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