Mayor of London Ken Livingstone has spoken out after Blue Peter presenter Konnie Huq was warned by BBC bosses about political bias after she took part in a press conference with him to promote the Hovis London Freewheel, a big bike ride taking place in the capital this September
Brian Coleman, a Conservative member of the London Assembly complained to the corporation over the presenters presence at a “political rant” by the Mayor.
At the event the Mayor commented on “the Assembly Member for Barnet’s £10,000 taxi bill” – a reference to the publication of the expenses incurred by Assembly Members and the Mayor.
In a statement issued today the BBC said it had apologised to Mr Coleman and confirmed that Deputy director-general Mark Byford had written to him saying: “The BBC had turned this down on the grounds that it would be unsuitable for her and Blue Peter.
“It was felt that the BBC and the programme should not be linked with anything that might be construed as campaigning, and that this campaign potentially fell into that bracket.”
According a report on the BBC website Ms Huq’s contract had been re-written, giving the BBC an “absolute veto over what she can and can’t do”.
A spokesperson for the Mayor dismissed claims that there had been a “political rant” and described the Mayor’s comments as “a moment of jokey banter.”
Defending Ms Huq the spokesperson said: “There was no party political element to Konnie Huq’s involvement in the launch – it was merely to promote the Freewheel, a fun, free event to encourage everyday cycling and fitness in London.”