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Michael Gove storms studios of 'biased' C4 with his own film crew to demand a chance to repr

Michael Gove (pictured) said the other party leaders blocked him from taking part in the debate on climate change last night

Downing Street and Channel 4 are at war this morning after Boris Johnson snubbed an election debate and the broadcaster decided to replace him with an ice sculpture.

The Tories sent Michael Gove, the minister for the Cabinet Office and a former environment secretary, to represent them but Channel 4 insisted the event was for party leaders only and turned him away.

The broadcaster's decision to effectively ban the Conservative Party from the debate prompted Tory fury as Mr Johnson's team wrote to the broadcasting watchdog Ofcom to make a formal complaint.


Mr Johnson's head of communications Lee Cain said in the letter that the decision was 'unfair' and was part of a 'wider pattern of bias' after a Channel 4 executive used a speech in the summer to claim the PM is a 'known liar'.

A Tory spokesman then accused Channel 4 of 'conspiring with Jeremy Corbyn' to stop voters from hearing the Conservatives' plan for how to tackle the climate emergency.

Meanwhile, Tory sources said that if they win a majority at the election on December 12 then Channel 4 will face a formal review of its public service broadcasting obligations.

Mr Johnson said this morning that he did not bother to watch the event as he said he had 'done plenty of debates' and the Tories had 'made it clear ages ago we weren’t going to do that one'.

Asked specifically about the ice sculpture stunt, Mr Johnson suggested it had backfired.

‘I didn’t see the debate but it is notable that people have talked more about that than any of the substance that came out of the debate and I think that is a shame,' he said.

He also distanced himself from the suggestion Channel 4 could face a review as he told LBC radio: ‘I want a free, fair, objective, dynamic, exuberant, unbridled media. I think that a free press is one of the glories of our country and I want to protect it and enshrine it.’

Boris Johnson, pictured during an appearance on LBC this morning, is at war with Channel 4

Channel 4 refused to let Mr Gove take part and replaced Mr Johnson with an ice sculpture for the duration of the debate

A pair of ice sculptures were placed on stage by Channel 4 - one for Mr Johnson and one for Nigel Farage who also snubbed the event

Mr Johnson had refused to take part in last night's debate because SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon was participating.

The Prime Minister has been adamant he will not debate Ms Sturgeon because she is not standing to be an MP at the election.

Five party leaders did take part in the showdown: Mr Corbyn, Ms Sturgeon, Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson, Plaid Cumru leader Adam Price and co-leader of the Greens Sian Berry.

Mr Gove arrived at Channel 4's studios to try to talk his way into the debate but his pleas were rejected.

The broadcaster then went ahead with the event, replacing Mr Johnson and Nigel Farage, who also snubbed the debate, on stage with a pair of ice sculptures which flanked the other leaders.

The way in which Channel 4 has behaved in relation to last night's event has left the Tories spitting venom.

A Conservative Party source told the Telegraph: 'If we are re-elected we will have to review Channel 4's public service broadcasting obligations.

'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.'

A Tory spokesman claimed after the debate that the broadcaster was working hand in hand with Labour to prevent the Conservative Party from having its say.

The spokesman said: 'We are deeply disappointed that Channel 4 News has conspired with Jeremy Corbyn to block the Conservatives from making the case for tackling climate change.'

The Tories had tried to force Channel 4 to change its mind by submitting a formal complaint to Ofcom just before the broadcast went live.

In the letter, Tory communications chief Mr Cain said the ice sculptures were a 'provocative partisan stunt'.

'It would be detrimental to the public interest and news reporting by public service broadcasters if such a wide spectrum of speaking and debate events could not take place, purely because of arbitrary requirements by broadcasters insisting on specific individuals attending,' he wrote.

'This is part of a wider pattern of bias by Channel 4 in recent months. It follows Dorothy Byrne, Channel 4's head of news and current affairs, making highly personal and unpleasant attacks on the Prime Minister at the Edinburgh Television Festival in August.

'I would be grateful if Ofcom could consider this matter with due urgency.'

Mr Cain also said it was 'unfair' to exclude the Tories because TV debates in the past have featured party representatives who were not leaders.

Via Daily Mail

My view: I think Michael Gove succeeded in diverting attention away from Jeremy Corbyn. It's strange that Gove tried to force his way into the debate to represent Boris Johnson who chickened out and who Gove himself described during the Tory Leadership contest as being "not capable" of running the country.

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