3 min read16 July
Conservative MP Scott Benton, who is co-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for eating disorders, has been accused of “fat shaming” a Labour councillor and NHS nurse on Twitter.
The Blackpool South MP, who co-chairs the Commons eating disorders group, has defended remarks made during a row over Euro football tickets as “light hearted”.
David Colldash, an oncology trainee, had criticised the MP for accepting free tickets to two football matches which had been provided by gambling and casino firms.
“Scott Benton gets a free ticket to the Euros from a gambling company and suddenly Blackpool needs a new casino… priceless,” he wrote.
“Greggs once gave me a free pasty so I’ve sold the town hall to the Great British Bake-off.”
The Tory MP responded: “More than one free pasty I suspect by the looks of it.”
Colldash, a Labour councillor in Blackpool highlighted Benton’s comment, accusing him of “fat-shaming”.
“When you get fat shamed by your local MP for highlighting his dodgy dealings,” he wrote.
More than one free pasty I suspect by the looks of it ??
— Scott Benton MP (@ScottBentonMP) July 15, 2021
Liberal Democrat MP Wera Hobhouse, who chairs the eating disorder group, told PoliticsHome the comments were “really unfortunate”.
“Scott Benson is a colleague on the Eating Disorder APPG and is very supportive of raising awareness and campaigning for better services to diagnose and treat eating disorders,” she said.
“Being obese is a form of disordered eating and Scott should have been less careless with the language he has used.
“We all need to learn how to avoid stigmatising those suffering from any form of eating disorder and make sure we help rather than hinder people coming forward, getting an early diagnosis and good treatment.”
Benton has since defended his tweet as “light hearted”.
“[Colldash is] a Labour Party Councillor who frequently posts unwelcome and unpleasant comments on my social media pages,” he told LancsLive.
“My response to him is light hearted and in the same vein as his original tweet.”
The Tory MP also dismissed the suggestion the hospitality perks he had received from gambling firms were linked with the casino project saying his interests were “fully declared” and that his support for the casino plans predated the gifts.
“With Parliamentary procedures, [being] the chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on betting and gaming means meeting representatives from the industry – also people who have concerns about gambling and discussing the issues with them.
“That can take a number of different forms, of which hospitality is one.”
“I have been on the record for a number of years in the case of reconsidering the regional casino. The opinion is well established and bears no connection to any hospitality or any declarations of my own personal interests.”
Eating disorder charity, Beat, who help run the parliamentary group declined to comment on the incident.
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