During Foreign Office questions in the Commons last October, London’s formerly very occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson made it very clear that he took a dim view of Labour MPs - like Jeremy Corbyn - appearing on the broadcasts of Russia Today: “If we study the output of Russia Today and consider the state of the press in Russia at present, we see that it is an absolute … scandal that Labour Members should be continuing to validate and legitimate that kind of propaganda by going on those programmes” he blustered. I mean, Ofcom agreed with him!
An absolute Muppet. And Elmo from Sesame Street
Indeed, the HuffPost conceded “Russia Today, which has seen increasing prominence in recent years, has been the subject of sanctions from broadcast watchdog Ofcom for its slanted coverage of conflicts in Syria and Ukraine”.
Sadly for Bozza, this was a campaign destined to progress not necessarily to his advantage, as he had, not for the first time, failed to do his homework: “But his attempt to criticise the Labour leader backfired spectacularly when it emerged that his dad Stanley had himself appeared on Russia Today only last month to promote his latest book”. Several Tory MPs had also appeared on RT’s airwaves.
And Johnson has now shown himself to be yet another steaming Tory hypocrite after volunteering an interview to al-Arabiya, the Dubai-based pan-Arab TV channel owned by Saudi broadcaster Middle East Broadcasting Center. Yes, Bozza has been happily validating Saudi interests. But the worst part was yet to come.
Remember the bit about Ofcom? Well, Ofcom has been busy recently with a complaint made against, er, al-Arabiya. A very serious complaint. Here’s the relevant part of the Ofcom judgment.
“Mr Husain Abdulla complained to Ofcom on behalf of Mr Hassan Mashaima about unfair treatment and unwarranted infringement of privacy in connection with the obtaining of material included in the programme and the programme as broadcast on Al Arabiya News on 27 February 2016 … The programme … included an interview with Mr Mashaima, filmed while he was in prison awaiting a retrial, as he explained the circumstances which had led to his arrest and conviction”. There was more.
“The interview included Mr Mashaima making confessions as to his participation in certain activities. Only approximately three months prior to the date on which Al Arabiya News said the footage was filmed, an official Bahraini Commission of Inquiry had found that similar such confessions had been obtained from individuals, including Mr Mashaima, under torture”. They broadcast material known to have been obtained through torture.
So it was no surprise that “Ofcom’s Executive found that the programme had breached Rules 7.1 and 8.1 of the Code … Ofcom’s Decision is that the appropriate sanction should be a financial penalty of £120,000 and that the Licensee should be directed to broadcast a statement of Ofcom’s findings, on a date to be determined by Ofcom, and that it should be directed to refrain from broadcasting the material found in breach again”.
That information was available five days before Bozza sat down for his interview. He’s not only a clown and a hypocrite, he’s not fit for office. But you knew that already.