A Labour MP has been met with widespread criticism after admitting to breaking social distancing measures to attend a Black Lives Matter (BLM) demonstration on Wednesday.
Barry Gardiner, the MP for Brent North and former shadow trade and climate secretary under Jeremy Corbyn, tweeted that he took a knee in a call for justice outside Parliament while admitting he was ending his adherence to lockdown measures which he had maintained since March.
Been social distancing since March. Today I broke it to join the #BlackLivesMattter demo outside Parliament and take a knee with thousands of brave young people calling for Justice. pic.twitter.com/1KWZeOPi01— Barry Gardiner (@BarryGardiner) June 3, 2020
While speaking to Sky News on Thursday, Labour's Shadow Foreign Secretary Lisa Nandy called the move "dangerous" and asked him to "acknowledge" and correct his mistake.
"I don't think it was right. I think it was quite dangerous to break the social distancing measures... and I think it was wrong for a member of parliament to be out there overtly saying they were not going to observe social distancing measures", she said.
Gardiner also received criticism from Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis on Thursday.
"I would say to Barry Gardiner what I would to anybody else", the Conservative MP said.
Gardiner defended himself in an official response on the Labour website, saying that it became "impossible" for him to observe social distancing rules.
"On Tuesday evening I received a negative test result. I am therefore confident that I did not infect anyone with whom I came into contact", he said.
He recognised his responsibility in setting an example and said he did not want his actions to "undermine" anyone else's dedication to social distancing.
"The anger generated by my breach of the social distancing rules must not be allowed to detract from the vital message that Black Lives Matter and that we all have an obligation to fight racism. The killing of George Floyd must be a catalyst for action", he explained.
Gardiner's admission to breaching lockdown measures, which were introduced in early March in order to prevent the spread of coronavirus, comes after a fellow Labour MP Rosie Duffield resigned as the party whip for breaking social distancing rules.
The Canterbury MP apologised after confirming that she had met her partner in breach of coronavirus regulations while they were living separately.
Instances of Labour figures admitting to breaching lockdown has been met with accusations of double standards after a media barrage against government advisor Dominic Cummings, who was met with widespread demand in May to resign from his position.
— Martin Daubney (@MartinDaubney) June 4, 2020
The controversy comes amid waves of support across the world for ongoing demonstrations against police brutality in the United States following the death of George Floyd, an African American man, at the hands of Minneapolis law enforcement.