A Tory MP has sparked outrage after saying that he could not appear alongside a female journalist because it would result in him "punching her in the throat"
Former Tory vice-chairman Michael Fabricant made the comments about Independent journalist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown on Twitter this morning.
"I could never appear on a discussion prog with @y_alibhai," he tweeted.
"I would either end up with a brain haemorrhage or by punching her in the throat."
His tweet was in response to an appearance by Albhai-Brown on Channel Four News last night alongside the journalist Rod Liddle.
Fabricant's comments were immediately condemned, with many calling for him to stand down as an MP.
“Michael Fabricant’s tweet is utterly appalling and he must apologise personally to Yasmin Alibhai Brown immediately," Labour's shadow minister for women and equalities Gloria De Piero said.
"It is unacceptable that views like this persist in the Conservative Party. David Cameron needs to be clear about this and set out what action he will be taking.”
"I am genuinely sickened by your remarks about Yasmin Alibhai-Brown," Guardian journalist Zoe Williams added on Twitter.
"This is just thuggishness. This isn't politics."
Fabricant today denied any violent intent against Alibhai-Brown.
"It appears that some people who don't know me think I actually go round punching "in the throat". Not true," he tweeted.
"If anyone believes I would seriously threaten someone with violence, I of course withdraw and apologise.
"I am afraid I know I would get v angry if I had been on the Ch4 debate last night. Glad it was Rod Liddle and not me!"
He also directed a partial apology to Alibhai-Brown.
".Sorry @y_alibhai if you actually thought I would punch you. I actually don't do that sort of thing. But you are utterly infuriating! xx,".
The Ugandan-born journalist dismissed the apology as "useless" and accused the Tories of prejudice against "people like me."
"The tweet was offensive & your 'apology' useless," she told Fabricant, adding that "Tories like you think people like me should be ayahs or selling you curry."
In an interview this morning she said Fabricant's comments would put her at risk of real violence from others.
"There are a lot of people out there who actually physically threaten me every day of my life," she told LBC.
"I have to have special security in my home. So what seems to this man a flippant reaction is not acceptable, beause to me it feels like he is encouraging those people.
"Words matter. This is what a violent husband thinks is ok to do to their wife. Is this his apology? Well he can stuff it."
As criticism mounted, Fabricant finally issued an unequivocal apology.
"So just for the avoidance of any doubt: I am v sorry for tweet. It was wrong to joke abt punching + I completely withdraw and apologise," he added.
Fabricant was sacked earlier this year by David Cameron from his role as vice chairman of parliamentary campaigning, after publicly disagreeing with his party's policies.
Fabricant is not the first Conservative politician to suggest violence towards Alibhai-Brown. Four years ago, a Conservative councillor was arrested after calling on Twitter, for her to be 'stoned to death'.
"Can someone please stone Yasmin Alibhai-Brown to death?" Gareth Compton told his followers.
"I shan't tell Amnesty if you don't. It would be a blessing, really."
The crown prosecution service dropped the case after Alibhai-Brown declined to make an official complaint.