A leading Tory mayor held an event last night with a pub landlord whose licence was previously on the line over a ‘punch your ex in the face for a free steak’ advert.
As women gathered across the country for vigils after the murder of Sarah Everard, Teeside mayor Ben Houchen held a Facebook event with local businessman Craig Harker.
The landlord’s pub, the George Pub and Grill in Stockton-on-Tees, faced having its licence reviewed in 2019 after publishing the incendiary advert.
Cleveland Police and officers at Stockton Council asked councillors to review the pub’s ability to sell alcohol- although it was eventually allowed to stay open.
Wendy Shepherd, an expert in Violence Against Women and Girls who has advised the UN and Foreign Office, called on Mr Houchen to apologise.
She said: “For somebody in his position to be sharing a platform with a man who is known for inciting violence against women with his advert, is at best naive and at worst plain wrong.
“He should apologise, particularly when this event was held on an evening where so many women were holding vigils and are outraged by what has happened to Sarah Everard.
“It’s always put onto women that we have to protect ourselves, but we have to start educating men.”
Jessie Jacobs, Labour ’s candidate for Tees Valley mayor, said Mr Houchen’s decision was “beyond reprehensible” .
She added: “At a time when the nation was grieving and women were raising their voices against violence against women, the Tories’ leading figure in the North does this.
“How can we ever expect the Tories to deal with violence against women when he aligns himself to this type of behaviour?
“It is a body blow to every women fighting for a safer world and questions need to be asked”.
Mr Houchen had not responded to a request to comment by the time of publication.
At the time of the row, Mr Harker refuted that his post on Facebook promoted domestic violence – saying only a tiny fraction of people who saw it had complained.
Mr Harker added: “We’ve done social media well for years – the way it works for us is if our views are up, are takings are up.
“There were just four or five complaints but 4 million people saw the post – it’s ridiculous.”