The Respect MP George Galloway has been censured by the broadcasting watchdog Ofcom for making derogatory statements about a political rival on a TalkSport phone-in show.
Galloway announced his intention to stand in the next General Election in the Poplar and Limehouse constituency and said the area’s current MP Jim Fitzpatrick was ‘the minister for the shambles at Heathrow’who ‘betrayed his former workmates by opposing the great battle of the fire brigades union”.
Galloway then spoke of Fitzpatrick’s voting record since 2001 and said he voted very strongly for the Iraq War and Labour’s anti-terror legislation. ‘All of these”, said Galloway, ‘are the reasons why it is going to be the mother of all battles in Poplar and Limehouse.”
Ofcom said Galloway, the current MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, had ‘compromised the need for due impartiality’and called his criticisms ‘inappropriate’as his opponent did not have the opportunity to respond.
TalkSport told Ofcom the matter had been discussed with both Galloway and the show’s producer.
Galloway, who normally presents a twice-weekly topical phone-in show, was filling in for the normal breakfast show presenter on 10 August when he made his comments.
Ofcom said in mitigation that Galloway had not mentioned the name of his political party and had told Fitzpatrick on air to challenge him ‘anytime, anywhere’in a public debate.
TalkSport was censured under rule 5.5 of the Broadcasting Code, intended to ensure impartiality, and 5.9 which allows presenters to express political opinions as long as they do not compromise a programme’s overall ‘due impartiality”.