THE former equalities minister running for Tory leader on an "anti-woke" platform has emerged as one of the one of the favourites among party members.

Kemi Badenoch, the MP for Saffron Walden, has attracted a fair share of controversy – from admitting to hacking a Labour MP’s website to calling a journalist “creepy and bizarre” for asking questions about a Covid vaccines video.

The 42-year-old former banker, who grew up in the UK, US and Nigeria, opened her Tory leadership campaign speech by saying “it’s time to tell the truth”.

However in 2018, she apologised after admitting she had hacked a Labour MP’s website to “say nice things about the Tories”.

It came after the Mail on Sunday obtained a video in which she was asked what was the naughtiest thing she'd ever done.

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She replied: "About 10 years ago I hacked into a Labour MP's website and I changed all the stuff in there to say nice things about Tories.

“This was a foolish prank over a decade ago, for which I apologise."

The name of the MP later emerged as Harriet Harman, who tweeted to say she had received an apology from Badenoch and accepted it.

In 2021 Badenoch was involved in a storm of controversy after publishing screenshots on social media of questions sent by a Huffington Post reporter asking why she had not taken part in a Covid information video.

Instead of responding privately to the request for comment, the MP used Twitter to accuse Nadine White of “making up claims”, with the journalist subsequently receiving a significant amount of abuse.

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The actions by the then minister led to an alert about the risk to media freedom being registered with the Council of Europe, with the NUJ calling her response “frankly weird, completely out of order and an abuse of her privilege”.

Badenoch prompted criticism last year during Black History Month, after claiming it was “racism history month” and being politicised in the UK.

She told Sky News: “It’s an American import, which hasn’t always fitted exactly with what I would call British and Commonwealth history.

“But what I’m also seeing is there’s politicisation happening in every sphere and I see it happening even there where Black History Month becomes racism history month, which isn’t what it should be."

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The year previously, she also made headlines during a Commons debate on Black History Month when she said schools which taught that “white privilege” is an uncontested fact are breaking the law and that they should not openly support the “anti-capitalist” Black Lives Matter group.

In 2021, she was urged to resign after damning criticism from three of the UK Government’s LGBT advisers.

Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said Badenoch had “lost the confidence” of the LGBT+ community and failed to deliver a Government promise to ban conversion therapy.

Badenoch, who resigned as equalities minister and a minister in the Levelling Up department on July 6, has received the backing of Michael Gove in the race to become Tory leader.

During her launch speech today, she took aim at firms whose priority is "social justice, not productivity and profits”, calling it a “Ben & Jerry’s tendency”.

The latest poll of Tory party members by the Conservative Home website has Badenoch in second place, only behind Penny Mordaunt.