It's not Strictly correct to credit celebrity Rose Ayling-Ellis with Commons' support for my sign language bill says Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper

Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper was elated when her pioneering bill to give British Sign Langauge official recognition recently gained approval in the House of Commons.

By Fiona Finch
Wednesday, 23rd March 2022, 12:30 pm

But Rosie’s joy at seeing her Private Members Bill pass its final Commons’ hurdle has been tempered by a desire to set the record straight on the history of her campaign.

While paying tribute to the support of celebrity actress and TV’s Strictly Come Dancing winner Rose Ayling-Ellis she has spoken out about the way she felt The Big Issue’s online publication had incorrectly credited Rose’s campaigning for ensuring the Bill became law.

The MP said it was “unfortunate” that a “false narrative that Rose Ayling-Ellis is the driving force behind my Bill” had been published.

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West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper pictured campaigning for her BSL Bill

She claimed it undermined “years of hard work that the deaf community have put into this” adding: “The driving force behind the Bill are the nine deaf organisations behind the ‘BSL Act Now!’ campaign who worked tirelessly to promote BSL. They have been supporting me every step of the way.”

Rosie added: “It is frustrating to find that the Big Issue have posted an article online claiming that the British Sign Language Bill came about due to pressures from Rose Ayling-Ellis. Whilst I am grateful for Rose’s recent support for my Bill, this claim is factually incorrect.

She continued: “I actually wrote to Rose myself in November last year with information about the BSL Bill and to ask if she would be interested in helping get public awareness and support of the Bill. Since then, I am pleased to say she has been an advocate for the Bill, using her platform to share information about the campaign with her many fans."In an online article on March 16 entitled “The biggest wins by activists in 2022 so far” The Big Issue described how in January the Government announced it would back Rosie’s Bill noting: “It came off the back of pressure from campaigners including Rose Ayling-Ellis.”

Supporting another good cause: Strictly Come Dancing winner 2022 Rose Ayling Ellis pictured modelling a T-shirt sold in aid of Comic Relief 2022 Photo: Matt Holyoak/Comic Relief

Paul McNamee, Editor of The Big Issue has replied to Rosie Cooper rejecting her complaint and stating: “I believe this article does not suggest the Bill’s success is just the result of pressure from Rose Ayling-Ellis. The article says that the bill is a result of your work, supported by “campaigners including Rose Ayling-Ellis.”

He continued: ”We made it clear that Rose was a helpful campaigner in this way because she has been and because you told us. In a piece published on bigissue.com on 17th January you said: “Since I first presented this Bill in Parliament in June 2021, the understanding and appreciation of BSL has exploded thanks to Rose. She proved that deaf people really can do anything, even the seemingly impossible such as winning Strictly when you can’t hear the music.”

On 28th January The Big Issue online ran a news piece heralding the success of Rosie’s Bill and had previously carried an opinion piece by the MP.

The editor added: “We certainly do not seek to minimise the incredible work you and many others have done.”

Saying it in sign language - West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper pictured (third from left) with supporters of her BSL Bill

* Rosie was brought up by two deaf parents and BSL was her first language

The landmark Bill, which will ensure BSL interpeters are provided by public services, must now gain approval in the House of Lords before royal assent.