Bryant: ‘Why is Mensch still on the BBC?’
Louise Mensch represents no-one and should not be interviewed by the BBC anymore, a Labour MP claimed this morning.
Shadow immigration minister Chris Bryant launched the Twitter attack after the former Corby MP appeared on the Today programme defending the Sun's decision to print pictures of Prince Harry naked in a Vegas hotel.
"Note to BBC: @LouiseMensch is no longer an MP or a media committee member. No need to interview her anymore. Just get @rupertmurdoch direct," he tweeted.
Later Bryant addressed her directly, saying: "You don't represent anyone anymore. You could pass the baton to Therese Coffey [a current Tory member of the culture, media and sport committee]."
Mensch, who triggered a by-election by her decision to spend more time with her family in New York, tweeted back: "Now, now Chris. Green's not your colour."
The Tory later made clear she was still technically an MP. "Mistakenly thought the chancellor had signed the letter; hasn't yet. Being paid, wrapping up casework," she wrote.
The storm in a teacup comes as the political world reacts to the Harry picture row, with supporters and opponents debating how far the Leveson inquiry has affected the freedom of the tabloid press.
"I suspect Murdoch is using Harry in his war on Leveson and I presume Rupert was consulted," Bryant, a prominent phone-hacking campaigner, tweeted.
In an editorial, the Sun said it was strange for newspapers not be publishing images which were widely available around the world and on the internet.
"He often sails close to the wind for a royal – but he's 27, single and a soldier. We like him," the paper said.
"We are publishing the photos because we think Sun readers have a right to see them. The reasons for that go beyond this one story.
"There is a clear public interest in publishing the Harry pictures, in order for the debate around them to be fully informed."
It added: "The photos have potential implications for the prince's image representing Britain around the world. There are questions over his security during the Las Vegas holiday.
Questions as to whether his position in the Army might be affected.
"Further, we believe Harry has compromised his own privacy."
St James's Palace said publishing the photos was an invasion of privacy, but accepted it could not affect the Sun's decision.
"We have made our views on Prince Harry's privacy known. Newspapers regulate themselves, so the publication of the photographs is ultimately a decision for editors to make," it said in a statement.
"We have no further comment to make either on the publication of the photographs or on the story itself concerning Prince Harry's private holiday in Las Vegas."
Speaking on LBC radio London Mayor Boris Johnson made light of the row.
"The real scandal would be if you went all the way to Vegas and you didn't misbehave in some trivial way," he said.