Angela Rayner has said she is “worried” about the online abuse aimed at This Morning hosts Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby after allegations they skipped the queue to see the Queen’s coffin.
Speaking at a fringe event at Labour’s conference in Liverpool, the party’s deputy leader said the attack they are facing on social media is “really damaging”.
Ms Rayner has been subjected to horrific online abuse herself, including death threats.
“It hurts when people think that they can call you thick and all of those things,” Ms Rayner said, reflecting on the abuse she has suffered.
“I’ve seen it with what was happening with Phillip Schofield and Holly just recently.
“I’ve been worried about them because even though they are celebrities… they are human beings and I just think ‘wow’.
“The way in which the online attack on them, as a human being to have that, I just think is really damaging.”
Ms Rayner added that the sheer scale of online abuse means it is important for parliament to legislate on the matter.
Asked for her message to social media firms, she added: “It’s your gaff, sort it out, you have responsibility to do that.”
Ms Rayner continued: “They’ve tried to self-regulate, they’ve tried to say ‘we’ll look after you’. They haven’t, they’ve not been able to do it and now it’s time for us to legislate.”
Willoughby and Schofield have been heavily criticised after they viewed the Queen’s coffin in Westminster Hall last Friday morning without joining the official queue.
The pair have responded to accusations they jumped the queue to see the Queen lying in state – insisting they were only there in a journalistic capacity.
The presenting duo have faced a backlash on social media, but claimed they had attended for the benefit of those who were not able to pay their respects in person.
During a pre-filmed statement aired on the ITV show last week, they said: “None of the broadcasters and journalists there took anyone’s place in the queue and no one filed past the Queen.”
A petition on Change.org calling for the duo to be taken off This Morning has received more than 20,000 signatures.
ITV programme bosses later said the hosting duo had attended to film a segment for Tuesday’s show.
This Morning previously addressed the visit in a statement posted on Instagram last Saturday, saying: “We asked Phillip and Holly to be part of a film for this Tuesday’s programme.
“They did not jump the queue, have VIP access or file past the Queen lying in state – but instead were there in a professional capacity as part of the world’s media to report on the event.”
A parliament spokesperson confirmed they had given media accreditation to journalists “for the purpose of reporting on the event for the millions of people in the UK and globally who haven’t been able to visit Westminster in person”.