Rail passengers slam ‘disrespectful’ Newsnight host Emily Maitlis after she is pictured letting her dog Moody sleep on the seat of a busy train
- Newsnight host, 48, upset travellers on service from Penzance to Paddington
- Moody the whippet enjoyed a snooze on the seat next to her owner yesterday
- Passengers said the dog was there for more than 25 minutes as others stood
- The journalist insists her pet did not leave anyone unable to sit down on the train
BBC star Emily Maitlis has been blasted by rail passengers for letting her whippet Moody enjoy a sleep on a seat next to her as she travelled back to London from the West Country.
The Newsnight host, 48, has upset travellers who saw and photographed the pair arriving into London Paddington from Cornwall yesterday afternoon.
Great Western Railway, who ran the service starting in Penzance on Sunday, have said pets are allowed on their trains – but must not be on the seats.
Critics have said the train’s guard or ticket inspector should have intervened.
Ms Maitlis, who chaired the BBC’s controversial Tory leadership debate last Tuesday, has denied claims that Moody having some sleep prevented other passengers sitting down.
She said: ‘There was no one without a seat looking to sit down. The dog was under the table for the first three hours of the journey whilst four people sat down at it.
‘He came on to the seat for the last 17 minutes of the journey when the seat next to me became free.’
A source close to the presenter told MailOnline ‘there was plenty of space’ on the train and pointed out that the photograph taken by a disgruntled passenger shows a person behind her sleeping across two seats with her feet up.
Emily Maitlis works on a train from Cornwall to London yesterday with her whippet having a snooze on the seat next to her, which has upset others on board
The incident came days after Ms Maitlis chaired the Tory leadership debate on Tuesday, which viewers said descended into farce
One witness, travelling from Reading in Berkshire to London, told the Mirror last night that Moody was on the seat for at least 25 minutes before arriving into London.
The onlooker said: ‘I was really surprised to see the dog on the seat. There wasn’t even a mat or newspaper underneath it.
‘When I boarded the train it was really busy. A lady was looking for a seat and ended up sitting behind Emily and not on a seat with a table, where there is more room.
‘Some people chose to stand, as there were few spare seats. It shows a lack of respect for other passengers to feel it appropriate for dogs to sit on seats meant for passengers.
‘It’s a question of courtesy and consideration for others. The dog should have been on the floor. It could have been dirty or could have had ticks or fleas.’
Fraser Pithie, of the Campaign for Rail, added in a statement: ‘The rules do not give animals any right to take up seats. Dogs must remain on the floor. Even guide dogs are not allowed on seats. A train guard should have spoken to her.’
The BBC was accused of ‘letting down the country’ after their Tory leadership debate descended into farce as 5.7million watched at home last Tuesday
The Corporation has launching a major review after the five-man format saw members of the public ask the questions instead of the host Ms Maitlis, who was accused of ‘completely losing control’.
Ms Maitlis is often seen with her whippet Moody, shown here having a sleep on a pouffe at home
At one point the Newsnight host asked Boris Johnson: ‘Can you hear me?’ as he tried to dodge a question on his first TV appearance of the campaign.
His Tory MP colleagues: Michael Gove, Jeremy Hunt, Sajid Javid and Rory Stewart repeatedly shouted over him – and each other – and at one point a frustrated Ms Maitlis was heard telling all five men to ‘shush’.
One viewer said the show turned into ‘an hour of men shouting inanely over eachother’ while another critic said that the BBC’s bar-stool format made the Tory MPs look like ‘a bunch of braying morons’.
Within 24 hours it got even worse for the BBC, after it emerged that staff failed to properly vet the members of the public invited on to question the five MPs vying to be Conservative leader – with a Bristol Imam outed as anti-Semite Corbynista and a London lawyer unmasked as a Labour council candidate hours after the debate.