politics

Channel 4 debate – Tories complain to Ofcom after Boris Johnson replaced with ice sculpture and Gove not allowed on


THE Conservatives have launched a complaint to Ofcom after Channel 4 replaced Boris Johnson with a melting ice sculpture in tonight’s debate on climate change.

The Tories are furious after the broadcaster turned away Michael Gove and refused to let him take the PM’s place, using the ice monument instead for its Emergency On Planet Earth debate.

 The ice sculptures could be seen next to the leaders in tonight's debate on climate change

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The ice sculptures could be seen next to the leaders in tonight’s debate on climate changeCredit: PA:Press Association
 Michael Gove and Stanley Johnson arrived at the studio tonight  but Channel 4 bosses said Mr Gove couldn't take part

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Michael Gove and Stanley Johnson arrived at the studio tonight  but Channel 4 bosses said Mr Gove couldn’t take part

Mr Johnson had turned down an invitation from Channel 4 to appear in the debate.

In an escalation of the row, the Tories immediately filed a formal complaint to the watchdog and are now said to be threatening to review the state-owned broadcaster’s licence.

In a letter to Ofcom, Conservative director of communications Lee Cain branded Channel 4’s move “a provocative, partisan stunt”.

He wrote: “It has even been reported that Channel 4 has commissioned an ice sculpture of the Prime Minister to represent the Conservative Party.

“Were this the case, this would represent a significant breach of the Code through such a provocative partisan stunt, which would itself constitute making a political opinion in its own right.”

FROZEN OUT

He added: “This is part of a wider pattern of bias by Channel 4 in recent months.

“It follows Dorothy Byrne, C4’s head of news and current affairs, making highly personal and unpleasant attacks on the Prime Minister at the Edinburgh Television Festival in August.”

An ice installation also take the place of Nigel Farage, who also did not take part in the debate.

Jeremy Corbyn, Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson, Ms Sturgeon, Plaid Cymru’s Adam Price and Green co-leader Sian Berry did debate the issue.

But Mr Gove attacked Channel 4 and the leaders who took part after it was revealed by Channel 4’s head of output that they “would have walked” if he replaced the PM.

Instead, he set up a Facebook live to take questions at the same time as the Channel 4 debate.

‘DEEP RESERVATIONS’

Mr Gove tweeted said: “Confirmation the other parties no platformed the Conservatives – a denial of debate.”

During tonight’s debate, the ice moulds could be seen next to the party leaders.

The PM and Mr Farage were replaced with ice sculptures as “a reminder that the ice caps were melting” according to host Krishnan Guru-Murthy.

A Tory source told The Sun: “Channel 4 conspired with Corbyn to block the Tories from being represented on the platform.”

The Tories said they had “deep reservations” about signing up because of the furore caused by Channel 4 boss Dorothy Byrne.

In the summer, she branded Mr Johnson a “known liar” in an anti-Tory tirade.

In 2017, veteran C4 broadcaster Jon Snow was embroiled in bias allegations after claims he chanted ‘f*** the Tories’ surfaced on Twitter.

Channel 4 tweeted: “These two ice sculptures – which represent the emergency on planet earth – will take the place of Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage tonight after they declined our invitation to attend a party leaders’ climate debate”..

DEEP FREEZE

Mr Gove arrived at the Channel 4 studio tonight – but bosses refused to let him debate in Mr Johnson’s place.

Stanley Johnson, the PM’s dad who attended last month’s Extinction Rebellion protests, also arrived as he tried to give Mr Gove his backing at the studio.

Channel 4 news editor Ben de Pear said the PM had sent his “wing men…..to argue their way into a debate for leaders”.

But he later rowed back from his claim, saying “sorry, we invited Stanley and he then offered to take his son’s place.”

Mr Johnson had insisted he wouldn’t take part in any debates with SNP  leader Nicola Sturgeon as she is not running to be an MP.

Mr de Pear said: “These two ice sculptures represent the emergency on planet earth, not in any human form but are a visual metaphor for the Conservative & Brexit parties after their leaders declined our repeated invitations to attend tonight’s vital climate debate.”

Earlier tonight, it was reported that the Conservative Party was threatening to review Channel 4’s public service broadcasting licence if it wins the election.

A Conservative Party source told Buzzfeed News: “If we are re-elected we will have to review Channel 4’s Public Services Broadcasting obligations.

“Broadcasting organisations are rightly held to a higher standard — and particularly Channel 4 which has a special role enshrined in legislation.

“Any review would of course look at whether its remit should be better focused so it is serving the public in the best way possible.”

 Channel 4 replaced Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage with two ice sculptures in tonight's debate on climate change

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Channel 4 replaced Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage with two ice sculptures in tonight’s debate on climate changeCredit: PA:Press Association
 Mr Johnson did not take part in tonight's debate

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Mr Johnson did not take part in tonight’s debateCredit: Getty Images – Getty
 Boris was grilled by nurses at a hospital in Cornwall on the campaign trail this week

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Boris was grilled by nurses at a hospital in Cornwall on the campaign trail this weekCredit: PA:Press Association





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