Boris Johnson has snubbed an interview with Channel 4 News at the Conservative party conference, telling a reporter who asked him why that it was “above my pay grade”.
Editor Ben de Pear said it marked only the second time in nearly 40 years that the Prime Minister has refused to speak to Channel 4 News at the party’s conference, the other time being Theresa May last year.
“Millions of C4 TV and digital viewers will be denied Boris Johnson being scrutinised by Krishan Guru-Murthy,” he tweeted yesterday.
“Democracy is weakened by a lack of media plurality. Instead we have to ask others his thoughts and despite days covering his every movement not be granted the chance to ask him questions directly.
“At a crucial time in the UK’s history political leaders have got to stop being #frit.” (Frit means frightened and was first used in politics by Margaret Thatcher to describe Labour politician Denis Healey).
Johnson did however do interviews with other major broadcasters last night, including the BBC, ahead of his conference speech this morning.
"It's above my pay grade."
Boris Johnson responds to why he won't be speaking to Channel 4 News today, despite agreeing to interviews with other major broadcasters. pic.twitter.com/hnu7cqztKk
— Channel 4 News (@Channel4News) October 1, 2019
It is the second time Johnson has snubbed Channel 4 News this year, having cancelled a planned interview with the broadcaster at the G7 summit in August despite inviting a news crew over to France.
Channel 4 News said a senior adviser told it the G7 interview had been “scrapped” because of Channel 4 head of news Dorothy Byrne’s speech in Edinburgh in which she said he “limits access to media like Putin”.
It prompted De Pear to say the number and duration of interviews with recent Prime Ministers, Cabinet members and the Leader of the Opposition had “drastically reduced”.
He said this amounted to an “undermining of political accountability” and that Channel 4 News was talking with Number 10 to resolve the issue.
Johnson did give an interview to Channel 4 News political editor Garry Gibbon while he was in New York for the United Nations General Assembly last week.
Picture: Reuters/Phil Noble