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PDA condemns satirical ‘attack’ on pharmacist MP


By Isabel Shaw
Reporter

23 Jun 2021

A national newspaper and satirical website have been accused of ‘attacking’ pharmacist and MP for Coventry North West, Taiwo Owatemi, after publishing articles critically discussing her dual role.

One of the articles that have come under fire said that Ms Owatemi had ‘admitted to actively selling drugs’, before explaining that she was, in fact, a pharmacist.

Guido Fawkes, the right-wing satirical website, published the piece last week (17 June) titled ‘Serving Labour MP admits to selling drugs’, alongside a picture of Ms Owatemi in front of the opening credits of crime drama television series, Breaking Bad.

Ms Owatemi had been working as a locum pharmacist on an ad-hoc basis since 5 June, according to a declaration of employment which the website had referred to.

In a follow-up post, published on its website earlier this week (21 June), the Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) said that people on social media had interpreted the blog’s title literally and many were accusing the pharmacist of criminal activity.

The PDA also noted that the blog had attracted mainstream media coverage, with The Times suggesting the MP’s decision to work as a locum pharmacist at a branch of Tesco was the ‘equivalent of a Saturday job in a supermarket’.

In response to what the PDA said was an ‘attack’ on the pharmacist, Mark Koziol, the PDA chair, wrote an open letter to the national media defending Ms Owatemi’s decision to work as a locum as well as holding a position as an MP.

‘There are multiple examples of doctors that become MPs continuing to practice [sic], including some who have served in cabinet, and quite rightly as health professionals they will also have a requirement to keep their practice current.

‘However, we cannot recall any of those MPs being criticised for doing so in any form, let alone in the way some of the attacks on Ms Owatemi have been phrased,’ Koziol said.

‘That an MP should continue to practice and care for patients in the middle of a pandemic should be praised, not condemned.’

Koziol also took issue with ‘the tone of some of these articles’, which he said exhibited a ‘lack of knowledge of our profession and what we do’.

The Guido Fawkes blog garnered a lot of attention and criticism on Twitter, with many people jumping to Ms Owatemi’s defence.


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