Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries denies threatening to cut the BBC’s funding over Nick Robinson’s fiery ‘stop talking’ interview with Boris Johnson after claims she said the presenter had cost the broadcaster ‘a lot of money’
It was claimed in October that Ms Dorries had privately told allies that the presenter had ‘cost the BBC a lot of money’ after he clashed with the Prime Minister and told him to ‘stop talking’.
But she told MPs this afternoon that she ‘never made the comment’ and she had ‘never criticised Nick Robinson’.
She told the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee that the remark had been attributed to her in a report in The Sunday Times ‘but nobody can actually say I said it’.
Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries today denied threatening to cut the BBC’s funding over a heated interview between Nick Robinson and Boris Johnson
It was claimed in October that Ms Dorries had privately told allies that the presenter had ‘ cost the BBC a lot of money’ after he clashed with the Prime Minister and told him to ‘stop talking’
Ms Dorries took over the culture secretary role from Oliver Dowden at the Cabinet reshuffle back in September.
Part of the job is overseeing negotiations between the Government and the BBC on the future of the licence fee.
Ms Dorries has criticised the broadcaster in the past and accused it of having a left-wing bias.
She once described state-run television as ‘more in keeping with a Soviet-style country’.
She insisted after she became Culture Secretary that she did not want a ‘war’ with the broadcaster but suggested it would have to set out how it will change before the next licence fee settlement, which covers the five years from April 2022.
The issue of bias and the BBC was raised by MPs during today’s committee hearing, prompting Ms Dorries to say: ‘Just for clarity on the Nick Robinson point, I think I might be able to anticipate what you may be saying next, is that I have never criticised Nick Robinson.
‘I didn’t hear the interview that I was supposed to have criticised and I never made the comment so I will just put that one in there in case that was where you were going.’
She added: ‘It was attributed to me but nobody can actually say I said it.’
Mr Johnson and Mr Robinson clashed in October as the PM conducted a series of broadcast interviews on the eve of his Conservative Party conference speech
Mr Johnson and Mr Robinson clashed in October as the PM conducted a series of broadcast interviews on the eve of his Conservative Party conference speech.
Mr Robinson pointedly told Mr Johnson that it was the premier’s first appearance on the Radio 4 Today programme for two years.
During the interview, Mr Johnson was interrupted during a lengthy answer by Mr Robinson, who told him: ‘Prime Minister, stop talking, we are going to have questions and answers, not where you merely talk, if you wouldn’t mind.’
At the end of the interview, Mr Johnson said: ‘It’s very kind of you to let me talk… I thought that was the point of inviting me on your show.’