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Last Updated: Wednesday, 31 March, 2004, 15:33 GMT 16:33 UK
Cockler joke MP returns to Tories
Ann Winterton
Winterton says she deeply regrets causing offence
The MP expelled from the Tories for telling a joke about drowned Chinese cocklers has been allowed back after making an unreserved apology.

Congleton MP Ann Winterton, 63, had the party whip withdrawn over remarks made during an after-dinner speech.

In a letter to Michael Howard she said she "deeply regretted" causing offence to the Chinese community and embarrassment to the party.

Mr Howard had described her refusal to say sorry "completely unacceptable".

'Offensive e-mail'

Twenty migrants died after being caught by a rising tide at Morecambe Bay in Lancashire last month.

I now realise that unintentionally I caused the Chinese community distress and offence, and embarrassment for the Conservative Party, all of which I deeply regret
Ann Winterton

Mrs Winterton made her comments at a Whitehall dinner to improve Anglo-Danish relations, attended by MPs and industry figures.

In her letter to Mr Howard, she said: "I apologise unreservedly for repeating in private conversation an offensive e-mail circulating on the web.

"I now realise that unintentionally I caused the Chinese community distress and offence, and embarrassment for the Conservative Party, all of which I deeply regret."

Mrs Winterton's apology prompted Tory chief whip David MacLean to reply in a letter: "In these circumstances, I have restored the Whip to you with immediate effect."

Protests

Mrs Winterton had insisted she had nothing to apologise for when her remarks were revealed by a Labour MP.

In her letter to Mr Howard she said: "I have explained to Parliamentary colleagues that ensuing media coverage was not only inaccurate but reported entirely out of context and that explanation was welcomed."

Fellow Tories were said to have protested about her treatment at their weekly meeting.

Two years ago Mrs Winterton was sacked as shadow cabinet spokeswoman for agriculture for making a racist joke at a rugby club dinner.




SEE ALSO:
Tory leader sacks cockler joke MP
26 Feb 04  |  Politics
Senior Tory regrets Spice joke
20 Dec 00  |  Politics
Tory's golly joke 'moronic'
06 Sep 01  |  Politics


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