Carol Vorderman has called on the women’s minister to resign after she could not “be bothered to turn up” to a committee hearing about the menopause – but the politician has accused the TV presenter of not dealing in facts.
Maria Caulfield took to Twitter a day after the Women and Equalities Committee session to say she had been unable to attend as she was with campaigners at a meeting “which had been in the diary for months”.
The MP, who is also minister for women’s health strategy, tweeted that she was “not a punch bag” and said anyone who posted “misleading information” about her would be blocked on the social media platform.
Former Countdown star Vorderman posted a screenshot on Twitter indicating she had been blocked by the Government minister, and wrote: “Maria, show some respect & RESIGN.”
When challenged by another Twitter user about blocking Vorderman, Ms Caulfield replied: “She hasn’t pointed out facts. I couldn’t attend yesterday as I was seeing women campaigners against painful hysteroscopy which had been in the diary for months. I have given alternative dates to the committee and they are the facts.”
The committee said it had invited Ms Caulfield to appear before members to discuss the Government’s plans for action on menopause in the workplace “but the minister refused the invitation”.
The committee is believed to have contacted her a number of times before that to get a date agreed for a hearing.
Committee chairwoman Caroline Nokes confirmed at the end of Wednesday’s session that Ms Caulfield is expected to appear for a hearing in June.
Earlier during the session both Vorderman and fellow presenter Mariella Frostrup expressed their annoyance at Ms Caulfield not being “bothered to turn up”.
Vorderman said she had seen Ms Caulfield “having a cup of tea” in Portcullis House that day, adding “that’s not much of an example, is it?”
Frostrup told the MPs the current situation on menopause and women’s rights in the workplace feels like “treading water which is only heightened by the fact that the minister can’t be bothered to turn up”.
Commons Leader Penny Mordaunt rejected calls from Labour for Ms Caulfield to apologise for not attending the committee hearing and cited the minister’s prior commitment.
She told business questions in the chamber: “It is deeply ironic, especially in the wake of International Women’s Day when we all used hashtag ‘#AskHerToStand’ and want to support working women, that we are so quick to paint an incorrect picture about our female colleagues in this place. I think it is shocking.”
Ms Mordaunt added: “She does not need to apologise in any way to people in this House.”