British PM Cameron "sorry" for Tourette`s jibe

The British PM`s latest jibe against Labour`s Ed Balls has landed him in hot water with disability campaigners.

Updated: Jan 09, 2012, 10:02 AM IST

London: Prime Minister David Cameron`s latest jibe against Labour`s Ed Balls has landed him in hot water with disability campaigners.

The Prime Minister was forced to apologise after he told the Sunday Telegraph that dealing with the shadow chancellor -- who regularly barracks Cameron in Parliament -- was like "having someone with Tourette`s permanently sitting opposite you."

Tourette Syndrome is an inherited neurological condition which manifests itself with tics, involuntary and uncontrollable sounds and movements.

"I was speaking off the cuff, and if I offended anyone of course I am very sorry about that. That wasn`t my intention at all," Cameron told BBC television on Sunday.

"But I think probably it`s a lesson for me that in the Commons I have to try and tune out the noise that`s coming and just concentrate on trying to answer the question."

It`s not the first time Cameron has referred to Balls` interruptions and mannerisms in his weekly question time sessions in the chamber.

During Prime Minister`s questions early last year Cameron described Balls as one of the most annoying people in modern politics.

Cameron told the Sunday Telegraph: "He (Balls) just annoys me. But I`m very bad, in the House of Commons, at not getting distracted, and the endless, ceaseless banter, it`s like having someone with Tourette`s permanently sitting opposite you."

His latest jibe at Balls drew a rebuke from campaigner Nicky Clark, whose daughter has Tourette Syndrome.

She told BBC television his comment displayed "an utter disregard for the condition and a lack of understanding from our Prime Minister."

Cameron has experience of caring for a severely disabled child. His oldest child, Ivan, who suffered from cerebral palsy and severe epilepsy, died in February 2009 at age six.

Bureau Report