Labour MP Diane Abbott has blamed the government for "demonising migrants" after a reported child rape at a hotel being used to house asylum seekers.
The backbencher and former shadow home secretary said: “Teenage boy raped at hotel housing refugees. Terrible case. But it is what happens when you demonise migrants and take NO responsibility for safeguarding migrant children.”
Her Twitter post on Thursday was accompanied by a picture of home secretary Suella Braverman - who earlier this week was condemned for saying there was an “invasion on our southern coast” - with her thumb up and the words “#SuellaBravermanOut”.
It had emerged a boy, believed to be 17, was charged last month by the Metropolitan Police with “one count of sexual touching of a child under 13” after an incident at the hotel in Waltham Forest, north-east London. He will appear at Stratford Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday.
Police were called to the same hotel on 5 October to a report of rape and spoke to the alleged victim, a boy in his teens, and his family, the force said. A Met spokesman confirmed: “A man, aged in his 30s, was arrested at the scene and taken into custody. He was bailed to return on a date in early January 2023.”
For legal reasons, no further details have been released about the case - and Abbott has faced a backlash from ex-Labour MP Tom Harris.
Watch: Home Office minister says migrants are ‘a bit of a cheek' to complain about asylum conditions
In a Daily Telegraph column on Friday, he labelled it an “absurd slur [which] gives an insight into the mindset of some on the left [that] there is nothing Conservatives aren’t responsible for.”
He said: "Does Abbott really believe that if Braverman had not used the word 'invasion', a young boy would have remained unmolested in his room?
"It is all absurd, and Abbott’s views do not deserve to be taken remotely seriously."
Yahoo News UK has approached the Labour Party and Conservative Party for comment.
Labour's Walthamstow MP Stella Creasy told BBC Radio 4 she felt "physically sick” when she found out about the allegations at the hotel, saying Braverman “is completely unfit for office and must resign" as "children are being sexually assaulted under her watch".
Home secretary Braverman has come under mounting pressure over her handling of the the migrant crisis including the illegal conditions at the scandal-hit and overcrowded Manston processing centre near Ramsgate. At one point, as many as 4,000 people were being detained for weeks in a site intended to hold 1,600 for a matter of days.
On Friday, Downing Street said migrants “deserve to be treated with compassion and respect” - after a Home Office minister had criticised the “cheek” of complaints from people arriving in the country “illegally” about processing centre conditions.
Number 10 appeared to distance itself from comments made by Chris Philp amid overcrowding chaos at the Manston holding centre.
Philp had told Times Radio: “If people choose to enter a country illegally, and unnecessarily, it is a bit, you know, it’s a bit of a cheek to then start complaining about the conditions when you’ve illegally entered a country without necessity.”
When asked if Philp was speaking for the government, Rishi Sunak’s official spokesman said: “I haven’t spoken to the prime minister about that specifically.
"Certainly it is true that Home Office border force officials and many others are working hard to provide safe, secure accommodation for those individuals that come via these routes.
"As we’ve been clear, those individuals deserve to be treated with compassion and respect."