LONDON — The Conservative Party has lodged a formal complaint over Channel 4’s decision to use an ice sculpture in place of Boris Johnson after the prime minister declined to participate in the broadcaster’s election debate on climate change.
Neither Johnson nor Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage accepted an invitation by Channel 4 to participate in the party leaders’ debate on climate change, aired Thursday evening. In their place, viewers could see two melting ice sculptures depicting planet Earth.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson, Scottish First Minister and Scottish National Party leader Nicola Sturgeon, Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price and Green co-leader Siân Berry all took part in the debate.
The Conservatives had asked Channel 4 whether a member of the Cabinet, such as former Environment Minister Michael Gove, could take part in the program instead of Johnson. But the broadcaster rejected the offer as Gove is not a party leader.
In a letter to Tim Suter, chairman of the election committee of the U.K.’s communications regulator Ofcom, the Tories said Channel 4’s decision “effectively seeks to deprive the Conservative Party of any representation and attendance” at the debate.
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The party described the move as a “provocative partisan stunt” and argued that using an ice sculpture represented “a significant breach” of Ofcom’s Broadcasting Code, adding that this “is part of a wider pattern of bias by Channel 4 in recent months.”
The letter continues: “If Ofcom takes the view that this matter could not be considered until post-broadcast, I would request that this complaint is assessed subsequent to the broadcast, given the unfortunate precedents that Channel 4’s actions may set.”
The letter was sent by Lee Cain, a former journalist turned political spin doctor for Johnson, on behalf of the Conservative party.
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