Brent North MP Barry Gardiner issues apology over Mexico holiday during UK floods

PUBLISHED: 16:38 24 February 2014 | UPDATED: 16:38 24 February 2014

Barry Gardiner is Labour's floods spokesman

Barry Gardiner is Labour's floods spokesman


Brent North MP and Labour floods spokesman Barry Gardiner has issued an apology after he was pictured holidaying in Mexico while parts of the UK were under water.

The shadow minister for environment, food, and rural affairs featured on yesterday’s front page of the Mail on Sunday pictured in a pair of tropical swimming shorts in Cancun as he attended a conference funded by Sigma Pharmaceutical.

Mr Gardiner and his wife Caroline stayed at the luxury Moon Palace Resort during the £3,650 trip paid for by the pharmaceutical company.

According to a Labour Party spokesman, the 56-year-old was called in to see chief whip Rosie Winterton and told that he’d made an “error of judgement” which shouldn’t be repeated.

Mr Gardiner issued a statement to the Times apologising for ‘any hurt’ his actions caused to victims of the recent floods.

He said: “During the half term holiday last week I honoured a commitment to speak to a pharmacy industry conference about waste. After three days attending the conference I remained on holiday for two further days with my wife in Mexico before flying back to the UK. Parliament was in recess last week and there was absolutely no cost to the public purse.

“At a time when parts of the UK were still recovering from the floods I am conscious in retrospect that it would have been better to have cancelled my participation in the conference and I regret any hurt this has caused to those still coping with the aftermath of flood damage to their homes and property.”

Mr Gardiner, who has been the Brent North MP for 1997, attended the conference to give a lecture on waste.

Yesterday he took to social networking site Twitter to accuse the Sunday paper of trivialising the seriousness of pharmacy waste saying it currently amounted to £300million in one year.

He tweeted: “£300m of pharmacy waste could buy 19,800 treatments for breast cancer or 11,775 more community nurses. MailonSunday belittle a serious issue.”

Ian Liddell-Grainger, Conservative MP for Bridgewater in Somerset, which has been heavily affected by the floods, has challenged Mr Gardiner to visit his constituency with his ‘mankini’ when he returns.

He said: “It would be nice to see Barry down here and I welcome him to come down when he gets back perhaps he can slip his mankini into his bag and see us.

“If he would like sun, sea and surf I have got it all here in Somerset. If he would like to come down I can supply him with a deckchair and a knotted hanky.”

However, a Labour spokesman said: “It is Ed Miliband and Maria Eagle who have led Labour’s response to the floods crisis.

“Labour’s response has been effective and robust. To suggest anything else is ridiculous.”

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