Pakistani politician Imran Khan has accused Channel 4 News of asking “a significantly misleading question” about former brother-in-law Zac Goldsmith’s mayoral literature and insists he’s still backing the Tory hopeful’s bid to succeed Boris Johnson.
Over recent weeks Labour have complained about the tone and content of Goldsmith’s campaign literature which has been crafted to address what the Tories claim are legitimate concerns within London’s BME communities.
During an appearance on Channel 4 news on Friday, Mr Khan was told that Goldsmith’s campaign had issued “a leaflet calling the opponent, Sadiq Khan, radical and divisive as a Muslim” and that the claim had been “seen as a huge offence by the Musilm community here in London.”
In response the former cricketer said: “I don’t know about it. I don’t think the issue of fundamentalism should be brought into this race”.
He later added: “The fundamentalist claim against the opponent, I don’t know what led to it, but maybe that wasn’t a good move”.
Mr Khan’s comments were seized upon by Labour who issued a statement in the name of Hampstead and Kilburn MP Tulip Siddiq, which said: “Zac Goldsmith’s nasty and divisive campaign has been criticised by senior Tories and community leaders from across London.
“Now even his own former brother-in-law, Imran Khan, has criticised his campaign.
“Goldsmith should get a grip on Crosby and his campaign managers and put a stop to this disgusting campaign immediately.
“I have no doubt that he will look back on this after the election and feel utterly ashamed.”
However footage of the interview has now been pulled from Channel 4’s website and YouTube page and Imran Khan says he was commenting based on the description of the literature in question which he had not seen at the time and now believes to be “misleading”.
In a statement he said: “When I was interviewed by Channel 4 News on Friday I was asked a significantly misleading question about the London Mayoral election.
“Specifically I was asked to respond to campaign literature which, I was incorrectly told, referred to Sadiq Khan’s faith and suggested he was ‘radical and divisive as a Muslim’. I have now seen the literature in question and it is clear that it says no such thing.
“Khan’s faith was not an issue in these leaflets or in any aspect of Zac’s campaign to become Mayor of London, which he is conducting with integrity, honesty, and by appealing to Londoners regardless of their colour or creed.”
Londoners will elect a new Mayor and the 25 members of the London Assembly on May 5th. Candidates for Mayor include Conservative Zac Goldsmith, Labour’s Sadiq Khan, Liberal Democrat Caroline Pidgeon, the Green party’s Sian Berry and UKIP’s Peter Whittle.