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Jess Phillips ‘sick’ at interview with Ukip candidate who joked about raping her

Carl Benjamin appeared on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme to defend his jokes about the Labour MP.

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Carl Benjamin

Labour MP Jess Phillips has said she feels “sick” after watching an interview with Carl Benjamin, the Ukip MEP candidate who joked online about raping her.

Mr Benjamin, who is standing for for the party in South West England, appeared on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme to defend his jokes, accusing the BBC of “killing off” comedy.

He also said he had spoken to rape survivors who had applauded his comments.

In response, Ms Phillips tweeted: “I feel sick watching Carl Benjamin chuckling along to people joining in with the language he has given them about putting a bag on my head and raping me.”

Earlier this month, West Midlands Police said officers were investigating one of Mr Benjamin’s videos to see if an offence had taken place.

Mr Benjamin posts videos and tweets on the internet under the pseudonym Sargon of Akkad.

In a recent video, he suggested he “might” rape Ms Phillips.

The video referred to a 2016 tweet in which Mr Benjamin said he “wouldn’t even rape” the Labour MP.

“With enough pressure I might cave,” he said last month.

Ms Phillips has spoken out about the jokes, and said she broke down in tears when she first heard about them.

Appearing on the Victoria Derbyshire programme on Thursday, Mr Benjamin said he wanted “comedy to come back to this country” because “the BBC is doing its best to kill it off”, and that he had spoken to rape survivors who welcomed his comments.

His joke was directed at journalists who had reported his original comments, he said.

Carl Benjamin covered in milkshake
Carl Benjamin was recently covered with a milkshake by protesters (Anarchist Party Exeter/PA)

“I was telling a joke. It was very clearly contextually a joke,” he said.

“This is why you have to decontextualise it, in order for what you’re saying to make sense.”

He accused the BBC of lying about him and presenting him with false comments the programme said were posted beneath his video.

“You have been lied to. The way that you report the comments is farcical,” he said.

“I’m aware of the politically correct narrative around this, but there’s another narrative that I suppose we can call the non-politically correct one that I support.

“I think it’s a lot more empowering to not be controlled by jokes. Survivors of sexual violence find what I’ve said empowering.”

Mr Benjamin said he was not responsible for the comments of others, but Ms Phillips said he should be held accountable for what his followers said online.

“When talking about raping you becomes a meme (imagine for a second how this might make you feel) surely the person who initiated and then continues to join in with that bears some responsibility?” she said.

Responding to the allegation that the programme had lied, a BBC spokeswoman said: “We reject these claims. Carl Benjamin was repeatedly and robustly challenged on his controversial comments made about Labour MP Jess Phillips following her interview on the programme.”

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