Conservative MP Sir Peter Bottomley has apologised after coming under fire last night for making light of professional wrestling during a Parliamentary debate on approving Health Protection (Coronavirus) restrictions.

    The clip, which was widely circulated (and is embedded below) shows Sir Peter laughing while mentioning wrestling, and asking if it was a “wrestler” who had asked for him to give way during his speech.

    He was also criticised by Labour’s Alex Davies-Jones, who chairs the APPG Wrestling group, who said: “Peter Bottomley is completely out of touch. Mocking an industry which is suffering, and people that are losing their livelihoods is cruel, heartless and unacceptable. I will continue to champion the British wrestling industry as all MPs should.”

    Sir Peter told “I apologise with good cheer. One of my best friends was a great Cumberland wrestler.  You may guide readers to the four minutes of my contribution, in transcript or video. May I add that in context it is doubtful that any wrestler should be upset.  If they are, do kindly suggest how wrestling can easily be COVID secure?”

    After informing Sir Peter of the hurt the clip had caused, and the impact of Covid-19 on the wrestling community, which has seen thousands unable to take part in their only source of income, he said: “I sympathise: inability to continue an occupation or a sport is grim. That is why I was speaking. Your contacts can consider themselves included in my concluding words. “

    For clarity, the full remarks after the intervention were: “We all have to take responsibility for contributing to reduced social contact to reduce risk, but if we do those things, we can learn from what we have done in the past and do it better in the future. I hope that this month of restrictions has the effect that we all want it to.

    “I want to finish by saying that we are not just looking at these regulations. I still criticise the Government for using the covid provisions to bring forward the regulation to put extra storeys on leaseholders’ blocks of flats. That was improper. It was not necessary and it should not have happened. I return to the last point, which the Chancellor will be dealing with: what will the compensation be for those who are affected and are not getting support? The people in the events industry, whether music or exhibitions and so on, and those in the freelance sector, which has been a growing part of our economy for the past 20 years, seem to have been hung out to dry. Those who started new businesses—we know that four out of five new businesses do not last—in the past year or so seem to have been excluded. I believe we have a duty to do more for those people. The excluded should be included.”

    The clip also shows Health Secretary Matt Hancock laughing, too – however he did not respond to our request for comment.