Hasan Suroor

LONDON: The Cabinet Minister at the centre of a “smear” row has been forced to apologise to human rights campaigner Shami Chakrabarti after she threatened to sue him for making allegedly inappropriate suggestions about her relationship with the former shadow Home Secretary, David Davis.

Ms. Chakrabarti had accused Secretary of State for Culture Andy Burnham of “attempted character assassination” and demanded a written apology failing which, she warned, she would take him to court. In a letter of apology, Mr. Burnham said he had not intended to cause “any personal offence to you, your family or any other party.”

“If this is what has happened by the misinterpretation of my remarks, then I regret that. I do try to speak in a straightforward way and use humour where I can to make my political points and, though you may not agree, that was what I was trying to do here,” said Mr. Burnham. Ms. Chakrabarti, who heads the human rights group Liberty, accepted the apology, saying she hoped Mr. Burnham and others would “remember the value of treating fellow human beings with dignity and respect.”