I saw the row between Andrew Bridgen and Lee Anderson - here's what really happened, says Nana Akua
By Nana Akua
Published: 27/04/2023- 10:40
Updated: 27/04/2023- 10:43
Having read news coverage of the altercation between Andrew Bridgen and Lee Anderson in Parliament yesterday, I felt it is important to give my first-hand account of what actually happened, because I was there.
I was invited to sit in on PMQ’s this afternoon by Lois Perry from Car 26 who had been given some tickets by Lee to sit in the gallery to watch proceedings. After which, Lee treated us to lunch in the Parliamentary dining room.
We were sitting in the dining room, minding our own business, Lee pointed Andrew out to me during our meal. Andrew was sitting at the far end of the room near the wall and waved back to us in a friendly manner. I thought nothing more of it.
The altercation was in fact initiated by Andrew Bridgen, who came over to our table opening the conversation with what I thought was a warm welcome.
He stood beside me, leant over and put his arm around my side in a welcoming gesture. However, it was anything but that, it was in fact a rouse for an abusive tirade directed at Lee Anderson.
Andrew was clearly very angry and accused Lee of expelling him from the party.
Lee was caught off guard as we all were as Andrew continued to badger him aggressively but with a smile on his face.
Despite Lee stating clearly that he was not aware that Andrew had been expelled and that this was the first he had heard of it, Andrew persisted.
I am no Ngozi Fulani, so I don’t have the exact transcript or wording of the conversation, but it was an offensive, aggressive and deeply unpleasant tirade directed at Mr. Anderson. Andrew was spoiling for a fight.
The shock on Lee’s face was evident and it was clear to both Lois and myself that this was the first time he’d heard the news of Andrew’s expulsion.
Andrew had just been kicked out of the party for comparing covid vaccines to the holocaust.
Andrew then went to sit down as if nothing had happened. Lee apologised to both Lois and myself on Andrew’s behalf for the disruption to our meal. He said it was “not on” and that it was the height of bad manners and especially in front of two ladies, to interrupt our meal in that way.
It was quite endearing that Lee’s main concern was the disrespectful way Andrew had conducted himself in front of women.
With that, he got up and walked over to Andrew’s table to have a word with him about his manners and his behaviour. What followed was clearly a heated discussion.
The table was too far away for me to hear exactly what was being said, but this altercation was an unprovoked attack by Andrew Bridgen, who took his anger out on Lee Anderson after being expelled from the party.
Speaking afterwards Lois Perry, Director of Car 26 told me: “I was blindsided by how angry Andrew was with Lee as he was smiling when he first came over. It is my firm belief that Lee Anderson had no idea about what Bridgen was accusing him of and is not guilty of it."
She added: "It is my personal belief that debate of all kinds should be welcomed and encouraged within political parties and I understand Andrew Bridgen's frustration, but this was totally the wrong way to go about it."