Following accusations by the foreign secretary, the Channel 4 News team has issued a direct challenge to Boris Johnson. And now, people are waiting to see if he accepts their offer of an interview.
“Fair and square”
The foreign secretary had earlier tried to discredit allegations of election fraud that arose from the joint investigation by Channel 4 News and The Observer. He tweeted:
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) March 24, 2018
Channel 4 News‘s head of communications Hayley Barlow was not impressed. She tweeted:
Please come on Channel 4 News on Sunday to explain how ‘utterly ludicrous’ the Vote Leave story is in your words https://t.co/degy0ikTIv
— Hayley Barlow (@Hayley_Barlow) March 24, 2018
Her tweet was retweeted by Channel 4 News anchor Jon Snow. And journalist Krishnan Guru-Murthy also threw down the gauntlet:
Then come on #c4news and answer questions in the studio. You still haven’t once since becoming foreign secretary. And as for legality shouldn’t you leave that to the electoral commission? https://t.co/rmP4IImDP1
— Krishnan Guru-Murthy (@krishgm) March 25, 2018
Whistleblower Shahmir Sanni accused Vote Leave of overspending. Johnson was a figurehead of the organisation. And according to claims in The Observer, it made a £625,000 donation to a separate referendum campaign, BeLeave.
This money was registered as a donation. But Sanni claims the campaigns shared an office, and Vote Leave advised BeLeave on how to spend the money. Under electoral law, election campaign groups are not allowed to coordinate activities. If they do, the spending has to be capped as if it was a single campaign group.
All those named in the allegations have denied any wrongdoing.
Johnson in hiding
People quickly started speculating over why Johnson wouldn’t do the interview:
No way will Boris face a proper journalist with real questions.
On the evidence so far, he appears to only does pre-scripted sessions that seem to be pre-approved by Tory Central Office, so nothing too taxing…
— knowgum #NHSLove (@UKnoGum) March 25, 2018
I don’t think you’re his type of journalist @krishgm .
Think he prefers those over @BBCNews who don’t ask the hard questions..
Prove us wrong @BorisJohnson ?
— Darren (@dbithellrec) March 25, 2018
Another Twitter user had a cunning plan to attract Johnson’s presence:
If you can find £160,000 then you could interview the foreign secretary over tennis. That seems to be the price of access.
— David Price (@DavidPr65843219) March 25, 2018
Although, what would be the point?
Some people suggested there might be very little to learn from interviewing Johnson:
Just make up the answers to your own questions, bumble on a bit and say something in Latin. It amounts to the same as having him there.
— Barry O'Connor (@barryoconnor77) March 25, 2018
— حاتم بومب (@hatembomb) March 25, 2018
Others pointed out Johnson’s history of lying and blunders:
Let's hear Mr Johnson bluster and lie through this debacle: still at least it doesn't involve someone's freedom this time.
— Paul Madge (@madge_paul) March 25, 2018
This is from somebody who was promising £350 million a week for the NHS after Brexit
— John Cook (@cookjoh8) March 25, 2018
Ultimately, as other social media users have pointed out, Johnson’s position is cowardly. If the foreign secretary thinks it’s appropriate to lambast serious investigative journalism as “ludicrous”, he should take the interview.
The Channel 4 News team has issued a direct challenge to Johnson. We’ll just have to wait and see if he has the courage to accept.
– Join The Canary and support and the work we do.
We need your help ...
The coronavirus pandemic is changing our world, fast. And we will do all we can to keep bringing you news and analysis throughout. But we are worried about maintaining enough income to pay our staff and minimal overheads.
Now, more than ever, we need a vibrant, independent media that holds the government to account and calls it out when it puts vested economic interests above human lives. We need a media that shows solidarity with the people most affected by the crisis – and one that can help to build a world based on collaboration and compassion.
We have been fighting against an establishment that is trying to shut us down. And like most independent media, we don’t have the deep pockets of investors to call on to bail us out.
Can you help by chipping in a few pounds each month?