Countdown co-host Rachel Riley brands Derbyshire borough councillor a 'holocaust revisionist' in Twitter row

Countdown co-host and mathematician Rachel Riley has branded a Derbyshire borough councillor who blocked her on Twitter a 'holocaust revisionist'.

Thursday, 20th June 2019, 11:58 am
Photo by Ben A. Pruchnie/Getty Images

Ms Riley tweeted her comments - a reference to a previous social media post in which Labour councillor Rachel Abbotts shared a screenshot of an anti-Semitic article - as an angry reaction to High Peak councillor's public conversation with another Twitter user.

In the exchange Coun Abbotts replied that she had blocked the celebrity - who alleges the Labour Party is antisemitic and has been branded a 'Tory' - after SocialistSunday posted 'Who else has blocked Rachel Riley? She's clearly mentally unstable at the moment.'

The High Peak councillor - who was embroiled in controversy in May after it emerged she had previously shared a screenshot of anti-Semitic views - immediately tried to clarify her position by tweeting that she blocked Ms Riley 'not because of her religion but instead because of her right wing views' and 'the smears she does'.

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Coun Rachel Abbotts, front row, fourth from left.

The fresh row has blown-up after it was revealed in May that Coun Abbotts had posted a screenshot of an article claiming the Jewish community ‘declared war’ on Nazi Germany in 1933.

Referring to Coun Abbotts' old Facebook post, antisemitism campaigner Ms Riley wrote (SIC): "Aaah the @UKLabour Councillor/Holocaust revisionist isn’t an Jew-hater, it’s just that I smear and am “right wing”.

The face of Countdown followed this up with two other tweets - both referring to a perceived slur regarding her mental health by the recently-elected Labour councillor.

She tweeted directly to UK Labour (SIC): "If you spent some, indeed any, money on Councillor @rachel_abbotts’s antisemitism training following her Neo-Nazi posts about the “Holocaust” I suggest you get your money back. I don’t appreciate endorsements of mental health slurs that I’m “mentally unstable”."

Photo by Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images

The 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown co-host also tweeted Gamesley Primary School where Coun Abbotts serves as a governor that she hoped 'no Jewish students are subjected to her views', adding 'I’m not sure Holocaust revision, endorsing mental health slurs or positively interacting with racists online are covered under the job description.'

After her original reply to SocialistSunday the High Peak councillor tried to clarify her position by posting 'I am not antisemitic.'

She wrote (SIC): "I support people of all religions as I believe in a fair and just society. I do not discriminate against people. I have blocked her because of the smears that she does. Her religion has nothing to do with it."

It understood Coun Abbotts' use of the word 'smear' refers to 33-year-old Riley's campaigns against alleged antisemitism in the UK Labour Party - in which the TV presenter claims to have been branded a 'Tory' in response.

Photo by Peter Summers/Getty Images

Tweeting SocialistSunday Coun Abbotts wrote (SIC): "No I don't agree with abuse in any form. My reply to the status has been misunderstood. I meant that I too have blocked her and not because of her religion but instead because of her right wing views."

In numerous Twitter posts since the heated discussion began Coun Abbotts has insisted that she was not implying the TV presenter has mental health issues and nor did she block her due to her 'religion'.

She has since directly tweeted to Ms Riley, who is currently pregnant: "Rachel my reply has been completely misunderstood. I was not saying that you have mental health issues. I would not say that about anyone. My apologies if you felt I meant that you do. Hope you are well with your pregnancy too."

Speaking about the controversy, High Peak Constituency Labour Party chair Fiona Sloman said: "High Peak CLP condemns antisemitism and any form of racism.

"Rachel is under investigation by the Labour party - we have asked that this incident be considered as part of that investigation.

"I note that Rachel has already shown remorse for her comments and apologised to Ms Riley - I will be making no further comment until the investigation is completed."