Nadine Dorries claims dyslexia made her say ‘downstream’ films

The culture secretary, Nadine Dorries, has said dyslexia caused her to mix up her words and suggest people “downstream” movies and play on “tennis pitches”.

The cabinet minister responsible for regulating the internet said her impediment, which according to the NHS mainly causes problems with reading and writing, means she can find it difficult to find the correct expression when speaking.

“I have dyslexia, which means that when I speak I often run my words together and say things that sound like the words I’m trying to say. Sometimes it’s funny and I laugh it off … but mostly, it’s just difficult,” Dorries said.

“I’m OK with that. I’ve been in politics a long time and you grow a thick skin. It’s why I haven’t spoken publicly much about how it affects me. But I’ve found it tough seeing commentators and media outlets mock me for something that is beyond my control. For other dyslexia sufferers, we learn that it’s what you achieve in life that counts, not what those who mock you say.”

She misspoke in a short TikTok video posted to the account of Conservative MP Luke Jones, in which she explained the responsibilities of her government department.

“We’re responsible for making sure you have superfast broadband in your home, that means you can downstream your movies,” she said.

Dorries added that her department is “responsible for everything to do with sport, making sure you’ve got football pitches and that you have tennis pitches in your communities where you can play and exercise your sport”.

Although the original video has only received a few thousand views, it went viral and reached millions of people after an account run by the website reposted it, drawing critical attention from the likes of Match of the Day host Gary Lineker.

In addition to communications and sports infrastructure Dorries is responsible for oversight of the British media industry – recently announcing plans to cut the BBC’s income and privatise Channel 4.

She is also guiding the forthcoming online harms legislation through parliament, which will require social media platforms to abide by a code of conduct overseen by the regulator, Ofcom.

Dorries used the criticism of her comments to promote her own account on TikTok, which launched three days ago and has so far attracted 443 followers.

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