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Britain’s Home Secretary apologizes for joke about spiking his wife’s drink with date-rape drug

By Sophie Tanno, CNN

London (CNN) — Britain’s Home Secretary James Cleverly has apologized for joking about spiking his wife’s drink with a date-rape drug.

According to a report in British tabloid the Sunday Mirror, Cleverly made the joke to female guests while attending a Downing Street reception earlier this month.

According to the paper, Cleverly – a senior minister in Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s Conservative government – said that adding “a little bit of Rohypnol in her drink every night” was “not really illegal if it’s only a little bit.”

He reportedly added that the secret to a long marriage was to ensure your spouse was “someone who is always mildly sedated so she can never realise there are better men out there.”

His comments came on the same day that Cleverly vowed to strengthen British laws on the growing epidemic of drink spiking in the UK, according to the Mirror.

A spokesman for Cleverly told PA Media: “In what was always understood as a private conversation James, the Home Secretary tackling spiking, made what was clearly meant to be an ironic joke – for which he apologises.”

The comments have stirred controversy among women’s rights groups and prompted calls for his resignation.

Opposition Labour politician and Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper wrote on X: “Spiking is a serious & devastating crime.

“Truly unbelievable that the Home Secretary in charge of tackling violence against women & girls could think it OK to make jokes like this. How can victims trust him to take this vile crime seriously?”

The Fawcett Society, a women’s advocacy group, described the comments as “sickening.”

“No wonder women don’t feel safe. We know that ‘banter’ is the excuse under which misogyny is allowed to thrive. How can we trust him to seriously address violence against women and girls? We deserve better than this from our lawmakers and Cleverly should resign,” Fawcett Society chief executive Jemima Olchawski said.

Women’s Aid, an organization which aims to tackle domestic violence in the UK, said: “We rely on political leaders to take action to end violence against women and girls, and the misogyny that underpins it.

“It is vital that spiking survivors see ministers treating the subject seriously and not downplaying the reality so many women face.”

Cleverly was forced to issue another apology just weeks ago for using “inappropriate language” in reference to Labour MP Alex Cunningham. He was accused of using a derogatory swearword to describe his constituency of Stockton North – a claim he denies.

Britain has been facing a rising epidemic of spiking incidents. Between May 2022 and April 2023, there were 6,732 reports of spiking in England and Wales, PA Media reported.

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