Channel 4 news reporters have been following Boris Johnson around the Conservative party conference, asking him why it is the only major broadcaster to be denied an interview at the event.
Democracy is weakened by a lack of media plurality. Instead we have to ask others his thoughts & 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— Ben de Pear (@bendepear) October 1, 2019
Channel 4 News’ editor Ben de Pear called the prime minister “frit” after revealing it is only the second time in decades that a prime minister has refused the broadcaster an interview at conference.
The prime minister is due to make a new announcement about his latest Brexit negotiations over the Withdrawal Agreement.
Meanwhile footage has been circulated of the prime minister refusing to tell the broadcaster’s reporters why he doesn’t want to sit down with them.
When approached by reporters, Johnson initially scoffs at the broadcaster, before professing not to know if an interview has been granted.
"It's above my pay grade."— Channel 4 News (@Channel4News) October 1, 2019
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
Approached a second time and asked why no interview was given, he said: “I’ve no idea … I’m afraid I haven’t … It’s above my pay grade. No idea.”
He then wished the team “the very best” and plugged his policy to “massively” expand the living wage.
The team at Channel 4 were unimpressed by the antics.
Krishnan Guru-Murthy, who would have been lined up to grill Johnson, said that the only previous occurrence of shutting out Channel 4 had prompted a letter of protest from other broadcasters.
Sad and mystified that Boris Johnson is not being allowed onto @Channel4News today. Our many viewers would like to see him explain his Brexit and other plans and see him scrutinised by us. He's a grown up. He can take serious questions. It is a missed opportunity for him.— Krishnan Guru-Murthy (@krishgm) October 1, 2019
De Pear tweeted: “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.”
Channel 4 news is earning a reputation amongst Brexiteers as having overtly pro-Remain coverage.
Krishnan Guru-Murthy is widely seen as an aggressive and challenging interviewer, having grilled health minister Chris Skidmore about government untruths in August.
WATCH: Health minister forced to walk back NHS ‘new money’ claim in excruciating interviewThe channel has also closely covered the Cambridge Analytica scandal and recently broadcast a scathing documentary about the Conservative party’s Brexit power struggles, Tories at War.
MORE: Documentary exposes not just how split the Tories are – but how duplicitous they are tooAfter Johnson’s refusal to be interviewed, Guru-Murthy tweeted his disappointment. “Sad and mystified that Boris Johnson is not being allowed onto Channel 4 News today,” he said.
He added: “Our many viewers would like to see him explain his Brexit and other plans and see him scrutinised by us.
“He’s a grown up. He can take serious questions. It is a missed opportunity for him.”