It is alleged she fabricated statement about actors being used
Nadine Dorries with one of the Spaine sisters during the show. Picture: Channel 4
The widely rumoured elevation of Nadine Dorries to the House of Lords in Boris Johnson’s resignations honours is being challenged due allegedly fabricated claims she made about a TV show filmed in Acton.
John Nicolson, the SNP MP for Ochil and South Perthshire, has written to Lord Bew, the Chair of the Appointments Commission for the House of Lords urging that Ms Dorries not be ennobled due to evidence she gave to a parliamentary select committee discussing the future of Channel 4.
In 2010, Nadine Dorries who is currently Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), appeared in a reality TV programme called Tower Block of Commons in which she stayed for ten days on the South Acton Estate.
Her hosts were two sisters, Rena and Renisha Spaine, who lived in a two-bed flat along with their eight children.
The visit was not a happy one with disputes breaking out between the sisters and Ms Dorries. At the end of the stay the sisters posted on Twitter “South Acton hates Nadine Dorries. Get her off the estate” and “Nadine Dorries is a lying two-faced b****. I know first-hand.”
Responding to a question by Rupa Huq, MP for Ealing Central and Acton, on 19 May this year, Ms Dorries brought up the show as an example of the how she believed Channel 4 operated telling MPs in the select committee saying, "The parents of the boys in that programme actually came here to have lunch with me, and contacted me to tell me, actually, they were in acting school, and that they weren't really living in a flat, and they weren't real.
"And even, if you remember, there's a pharmacist or somebody that I went to see who prepared food - she was also a paid actress as well."
Speaking to Sky News afterwards, Rena Spaine said, "It was a blatant lie and she knows. I don't know where she is getting that rubbish from.
"She was a nightmare, a different person when the camera was rolling. It has made me feel disgusting, stop telling lies about me.”
All the people who were at the lunch at the House of Commons with Ms Dorries, have denied that the conversation she reported ever took place.
Channel 4 conducted an inquiry into the show interviewing all the members of the production team and the participants in the Tower Block of Commons episode in which Ms Dorries participated. It published a detailed report this July which concluded, “Neither Love Productions’ investigation nor Channel 4’s internal inquiries revealed any evidence to support the allegations made about the programme.”
The chair of the DCMS Committee immediately wrote to Ms Dorries suggesting that she withdraw her claims about the show but she responded on 19 July in a letter which stated, “I set out my experiences on taking part in the programme in my comments during the Select Committee and stand by those remarks. I do not wish to add anything further at this time.”
In his letter to Lord Bew, John Nicolson writes, “We are now in the position where we must decide whether everyone involved in the Channel 4 programme – every executive, all of the production team, and every member of the public who took part in the programme – is involved in a conspiracy to deceive. Or whether the Secretary of State’s account is not to believed.”
He adds that Ms Dorries has not presented any evidence to substantiate her claims and suggests that any appointment to the House of Lords must be delayed until Ms Dorries properly addresses the issue.
Nadine Dorries with inset of Acton tower blocks used during filming
If she is elevated to the House of Lords, she would no longer be under the jurisdiction of the Commons Committee of Privileges.
The privatisation of Channel 4 was a key policy of Boris Johnson’s government, but it is not know if the new Prime Minister will persist with the plan. It is thought highly unlikely that Nadine Dorries will retain a ministerial role in any new cabinet.
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August 25, 2022