A Labour MP was listed as a delegate of Bangladesh at the UN general assembly despite claiming to have no influence on the country’s politics.
Tulip Siddiq appeared as a representative at the 66th UN general assembly in 2011 alongside her mother, Rehana Siddique. Ms Siddiq is trying to distance herself from the government of Bangladesh where her aunt, Sheikh Hasina, is the prime minister and her uncle is the national security adviser.
Ms Siddiq apologised this week for “ill-judged” remarks to a pregnant Channel 4 News producer about having a difficult childbirth. The MP had been asked about the case of Ahmad Bin Quasem, a British-trained barrister who was abducted from his flat in Dhaka, the Bangladeshi capital, a year ago and detained in secret.
His family want Ms Siddiq to make use of her political connections to secure his release but she has refused. She first claimed to not know of the man’s case, despite the family lobbying her on his behalf over the past year. She then asked whether he was a constituent, despite her office telling The Times last December that they were unable to intervene because he was not. She told Channel 4 News: “I’m a Labour MP for Hampstead and Kilburn, I’m a British member of parliament. Be very careful. I’m not Bangladeshi and the person you are talking about, I have no idea about their case.”
Ms Siddiq was criticised for telling the producer Daisy Ayliffe: “Thanks for coming Daisy, hope you have a great birth, because child labour is hard.”
Ms Siddiq, 35, was listed at the general assembly with her cousin, Sajeeb Ahmed Wazed, the prime minister’s son, and his wife, who is an American lawyer. All were said to be advisers. At the time Ms Siddiq, who became an MP in 2015, was a senior councillor for Camden.
She has previously campaigned with her aunt in Bangladesh and wrote of her delight at her victory in blog posts that have been deleted, as well as describing herself as a spokeswoman for the Awami League, the ruling party.
In 2013 she accompanied her aunt on a visit to the Kremlin where they were pictured with Vladimir Putin.
Human rights groups have accused Bangladesh’s government of repressing opponents after fraudulent elections. This year 144 people have been killed extrajudicially and there have been 80 enforced disappearances, according to local observers.
Ms Siddiq did not respond to requests for comment last night.