Former Labour Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, has this week come under attack after it emerged that he has been paid thousands of pounds for his work as presenter on a TV channel funded by a state well-known for its anti-gay laws.
Mr Livingstone has fronted seven shows on the English language Press TV channel, an Iranian state Television channel, three of which have been since he was again adopted as Labour’s candidate for the next Mayoral elections.
The government-funded international news network was launched by Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2007 and is run by the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting.
The broadcaster has already undergone investigation by Ofcom last year after interviewing a jailed Newsweek journalist who was allegedly under extreme duress at the time in an interrogation room.
Conservative MP for Chelsea and Fulham, Greg Hands, said: “This shows a lack of judgment on the part of Ken Livingstone, to be working for Iranian state television at a time when press and other democratic freedoms in Iran have been completely destroyed by the regime there, and at a time when Londoners will want to know if he will ever return to the political mainstream.”
These revelations are just the latest in a series of controversies Ken Livingstone has been in. Towards the end of 2010, he ignored the Labour leadership to actively campaign for Independent candidate Lutfur Rahman in the race to be Tower Hamlets Mayor. Rahman had previously been expelled from the Labour Party and banned from standing following accusations of links to Islamic extremism.
Commenting for LGBTory, the Conservative LGBT group, Matthew Sephton said:
“It is appalling that Mr Livingstone chooses to be on the payroll of a regime well-known for its barbaric treatment of gay men and women. The Iranian state regularly executes people for being gay and this is simply not acceptable.”
“This is not the only time the judgement of Labour’s Red Ken has been called into question. We all remember his endorsement of Yusuf al-Qaradawi, an Egyptian televangelist who supports Female Genital Mutilation, as a “progressive”. If Ken really is a believer in equality he needs to be showing this far more in his actions as well as in his words.“