LONDON: Former UK Labour Party MP Chris Williamson has been stripped of his parliamentary pass over ties to Iranian state media channel PressTV.
Williamson, a close ally of former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, hosts PressTV’s “Palestine Declassified,” which investigates Palestinian issues and current affairs.
“The Administration Committee met and decided to suspend Chris Williamson’s parliamentary pass until further notice,” Charles Walker, chair of the committee, said in a statement.
“The committee considered that Mr. Williamson’s continued presence on PressTV, a broadcaster that has been banned in the UK and multiple other countries, is unacceptable and risks bringing Parliament into disrepute.”
Williamson said that he was “not surprised” at the decision and that he had not used his pass since losing his seat in 2019, accusing the British political class of “breathtaking hypocrisy.”
He said: “I wasn’t surprised by the decision to withdraw my parliamentary pass. The political class has been gripped by a kind of hypocritical hysteria.
“The grounds for the arbitrary cancellation of my pass are absurd.
“However, there is an important principle at stake here. This confected controversy over my parliamentary pass is an example of the disturbing scale of censorship and the breathtaking hypocrisy of the British political class.
“It seems I am being censured for presenting a program on PressTV about Israeli oppression of the Palestinian people, because it is an Iranian TV company.”
PressTV, an Iranian state-owned news network, was stripped of its licence to operate in Britain in 2012. The channel is considered one of Tehran’s top English-language media outlets.
Since its launch in February 2022, “Palestine Declassified,” which is co-produced by former Bristol University sociology professor David Miller, has been accused of promoting pro-Kremlin and anti-Zionist views.
Williamson’s Twitter account is officially flagged as “Iran state-affiliated media,” a classification that he contests in his profile biography.
The former MP has attracted controversy for his views on the Israel-Palestine issue.
In 2019, the former shadow minister was suspended from Labour after saying that his party had been “too apologetic” over antisemitism.
More recently, he claimed that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is a “neo-Nazi-backed hypocrite,” accusing British MPs of “salivating about escalating the war in Ukraine.”
Williamson said that he will appeal the decision to strip his parliamentary pass.