‘Is bum boys OK?’ - Justice minister defends Boris Johnson’s use of term as ‘free speech’

Eddie Mair interviews justice minister Chris Philp. Photograph: LBC/Global.

Eddie Mair interviews justice minister Chris Philp. Photograph: LBC/Global. - Credit: Archant

A justice minister has defended Boris Johnson's use of the term 'bum boys' claiming it was 'free speech' for the prime minister to use the term to describe homosexuals.

Justice Minister Chris Philp was appearing on Eddie Mair's LBC radio programme when he was asked about Boris Johnson's use of the term "tank-topped bum boys" in past newspaper columns.

During a leaders' debate on the BBC, Johnson defended his right to use the terms and refused to apologise.

He said: "I've written many millions of words in my time as a journalist, and I've never intended, genuinely, to cause hurt or pain to anybody. That is my intention."

He added: "If you go through all my articles with a fine tooth comb and take out individual phrases, there is no doubt you can find things that can be made to seem offensive. That is, of course… I understand that."

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Philp also took a similar term, telling Mair that he used "colourful language sometimes" before adding that he was "not going to give a running commentary" on things the prime minister said.

"I'm not asking for a running commentary", Mair told the minister. He said he simply wanted to know if it was offensive.

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"I'm not from the LGBT community", Philp explained.

"Oh you have to be from the LGBT community to find that offensive?" questioned Mair, as he continued to ask why the LGBT community vote for a politician who had been homophobic.

The justice minister, however, claimed that actions spoke louder than words and the minister had recently voted for equal marriage in Northern Ireland.

"Is bum boys OK? Would you use that expression?" enquired the interviewer.

"I personally wouldn't no, but I'm not going to tell Boris what words he should use" the Tory responded.

"Why because he's your boss?" asked Mair back.

"No because people can use their own language and they can make their own judgements" before he went on to say that "I believe in free speech".

It comes as Labour attacked Boris Johnson for his past comments on single mothers.

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