MP Chloe Smith responds to criticism of her husband calling coronavirus a ‘mental illness’

Norwich North MP Chloe Smith and her husband Sandy McFadzean pictured in 2014. Photo: Bob Hobbs

Norwich North MP Chloe Smith and her husband Sandy McFadzean pictured in 2014. Photo: Bob Hobbs - Credit: Archant

This newspaper reported last week how the husband of Norwich North MP Chloe Smith described coronavirus as a “mental illness”, attended a mass protest against facemasks alongside thousands more without wearing the necessary facial protection and spread Covid conspiracy theories online.

Sandy McFadzean at the march against coronavirus restrictions on Saturday August 29 in London. Photo

Sandy McFadzean at the march against coronavirus restrictions on Saturday August 29 in London. Photo: Twitter/@stateistoobig - Credit: Archant

In response the MP said the views expressed were not her own and that, as a private citizen, her husband, Sandy McFadzean was entitled to his own opinions.

Mr McFadzean later apologised for what he’d said.

However, this newspaper believes there are still a series of questions which remain unanswered and today we print in full the questions we have sent to the MP - and her response.

•Our questions to Chloe Smith

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-Your job involves meeting lots of members of the public, visiting schools and government departments. Is your household following the Government’s social distancing guidelines/wearing facemasks etc. when your husband believes coronavirus is fake and is pictured at a mass protest not wearing a mask?

-If further lockdowns are required, will your household adhere to them, given the views your husband has expressed?

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-Your husband attended an illegal march with up to 10,000 other people not wearing a facemask. In your previous statement you appeared to defend your husband’s decision to attend this mass gathering, stating “everyone’s entitled to their own view, and to debate”. Can you please clarify whether you are suggesting that people have a right to attend mass gatherings at the moment?

-What message does it send to the public that you have failed to condemn his attendance at a mass gathering more than a week after this march?

-Will you also condemn the messages your husband either posted or retweeted on Twitter, including, swearing at the DHSC for asking people to wear facemasks, describing Boris Johnson as a “fat *****” who didn’t have a “brush with death” and describing public health officials as “fascists”?

-What message does your husband’s actions send to the wider public about whether they should bother following coronavirus restrictions?

-Your husband described coronavirus as a “mental illness”. This is deeply damaging, especially for the thousands of families who have lost their loved ones to coronavirus. Will you publicly challenge this view?

-Since lockdown measures were introduced in March, has your husband adhered to them? Did he stick to one outdoor trip per day, avoid social contact with anyone except his household, and does he wear a mask in shops, etc?

-Do you feel that the inconsistency of views about coronavirus in your own household will have a impact on your standing with your constituents?

•Chloe Smith’s response

The EDP is wrong to have a go at a politician for their family, as they have done recently. It’s me, the MP, who is accountable - for my own views, and for my own actions and behaviour. I’ve already been clear that in this case, I don’t agree with my own husband.

Debate and opinions should be welcome in this democracy. If things go too far, good people apologise - which my husband has done, unreservedly. I would now ask this paper to leave my family alone.

It’s more important that we focus on our country’s recovery, and people’s lives and livelihoods in Norfolk.

Since the beginning of the pandemic I’ve urged everyone to stay safe by following the government’s guidance. I repeat this now because, understandably, with the examples of some cases reported at a large city centre shop as well as elsewhere in Norfolk, people may well be worried about the virus in Norwich.

We should all wash our hands, keep a social distance, wear a mask when required, and get tested and isolate if we have any symptoms. I do this, and have since the spring, and I take special care because I have a public responsibility.

When I’m meeting constituents, I aim to help them stay safe by personally following these rules as well as any other guidelines that a meeting-place might ask.

This has been an incredibly hard time for so many people, and my heart goes out particularly to those who’ve lost loved ones.

We will face more challenges over the next few months as we must still deal with this virus. I encourage everyone once again to keep up our efforts and stay safe.

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