Boris Johnson scraps Channel 4 G7 interview after rebuke from news chief

Boris Johnson has refused to give an interview to Channel 4 at the G7 summit in Biarritz, days after he was criticised by the organisation's news chief Dorothy Byrne.

Ms Byrne called Mr Johnson a "coward" and compared him with Vladimir Putin for his preference for a "jolly statement" over a grilling on television, at the Edinburgh TV Festival, saying: "What we all need to decide: what do we do when a known liar becomes our Prime Minister?"

Channel 4 said on Sunday that they were due to talk to Mr Johnson but that their meeting was cancelled despite being told to travel to the summit in France.

Channel 4 News tweeted: "Decision by @10DowningStreet was made following criticism from Dorothy Byrne that Mr Johnson limits access to media like Putin.

"@10DowningStreet's reasons for the cancellation have varied. One senior advisor said the interview was scrapped because of Dorothy Byrne's recent speech."

"Mr Johnson told @itvnews' @Peston it was because he didn't have time."

Questioned about cancelling the Channel 4 interview by ITV News' political editor Robert Peston, who said he was not allowing himself to be "held to account", Mr Johnson said: "I'm delighted to be interviewed by you Robert, it's the highest honour that, one of the high honours that a politician can have.

"But I have to, I'm afraid, once this ceremony is over, I have to go and talk to French radio, French TV and lots of other outlets as well."

Mr Peston tweeted: "I suggested to @BorisJohnson that he had 'shot himself in the foot' in his response to the critique of Dorothy Byrne, head of news and current affairs at Channel 4, that he and @jeremycorbyn don't allow themselves to be held to account on television enough – because today he refused to be interviewed by Ch4 News (@Channel4News).

"'Not in the least' he told me. But if he heard Byrne's recent MacTaggart speech and a linked interview as undermining Ch4's impartiality, surely he should complain to the regulator Ofcom.

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G7 summit in Biarritz
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G7 summit in Biarritz
Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Melania Trump, US President Donald Trump and Brigitte Macron and French President Emmanuel Macron join other World Leaders for the family photo at the G7 Summit in Biarritz, France.
Melania Trump, US President Donald Trump, Brigitte Macron and French President Emmanuel Macron join other World Leaders for the family photo at the G7 Summit in Biarritz, France.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a working lunch on Digital transformation as part of the G7 summit in Biarritz, France.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson meets Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for bilateral talks during the G7 summit in Biarritz, France.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a press conference at the conclusion of the G7 summit in Biarritz, France.
French President and G7 host Emmanuel Macron, U.S. President Donald Trump and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte are seen in a meeting during the G7 Summit in Biarritz today.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron, during a working lunch on Digital transformation as part of the G7 summit in Biarritz, France.
(left to right) Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, European Council President Donald Tusk, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a working lunch on Digital transformation as part of the G7 summit in Biarritz, France.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson meets European Council President Donald Tusk for bilateral talks during the G7 summit in Biarritz, France.
US President Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel join other World Leaders for the family photo at the G7 Summit in Biarritz, France.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa join other World Leaders for the family photo at the G7 Summit in Biarritz, France.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson (left) joins other World Leaders and their spouses for the family photo at the G7 Summit in Biarritz, France.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson participates in a TV interview ahead of bilateral meetings as part of the G7 summit in Biarritz, France.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson meets European Council President Donald Tusk for bilateral talks during the G7 summit in Biarritz, France.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson meeting US President Donald Trump for bilateral talks during the G7 summit in Biarritz, France.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson participates in a TV interview ahead of bilateral meetings as part of the G7 summit in Biarritz, France.
US President Donald Trump attends the first working session of the G7 Summit in Biarritz, France.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson attends a working session during the G7 summit in Biarritz, France.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson attends a G7 and Africa partnership session during the G7 summit in Biarritz, France.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson attends a working session during the G7 summit in Biarritz, France.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson meets US President Donald Trump for bilateral talks during the G7 summit in Biarritz, France.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson (left) joins other World Leaders for the family photo at the G7 Summit in Biarritz, France.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson meeting India PM Narendra Modi for bilateral talks during the G7 summit in Biarritz, France.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson meeting India PM Narendra Modi for bilateral talks during the G7 summit in Biarritz, France.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson meeting President of Chile Sebastian Pinera for bilateral talks during the G7 summit in Biarritz, France.
BIARRITZ, FRANCE - AUGUST 24: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson (L) and French President Emmanuel Macron during a G7 coordination meeting with the Group of Seven European members at the Hotel du Palais on August 24, 2019 in Biarritz, France. The French southwestern seaside resort of Biarritz is hosting the 45th G7 summit from August 24 to 26. High on the agenda will be the climate emergency, the US-China trade war, Britain's departure from the EU, and emergency talks on the Amazon wildfire crisis. (Photo by Andrew Parsons - Pool/Getty Images)
French President Emmanuel Macron (R) chats with US President Donald Trump (2ndR) as French President's wife Brigitte Macron clutches the hand of US First Lady Melania Trump (L) at the Biarritz lighthouse, southwestern France, ahead of a working dinner on August 24, 2019, on the first day of the annual G7 Summit attended by the leaders of the world's seven richest democracies, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States. - EU leaders rounded on US President Donald Trump over his trade threats at a G7 summit in France overshadowed by trans-Atlantic tensions and worries about the global economy. (Photo by Francois Mori / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read FRANCOIS MORI/AFP/Getty Images)
French Gendarmes detain a man during a demonstration in the city of Bayonne, south-west France on August 24, 2019, on the sidelines of the annual G7 Summit attended by the leaders of the world's seven richest democracies, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States taking place in the seaside resort of Biarritz. - More than 9,000 anti-G7 protesters joined a mass march across the French-Spanish border as world leaders arrived for a summit in Biarritz just hours after activists clashed with police. Authorities remain on high alert, with Biarritz on lockdown and police deployed en masse in the neighbouring town of Bayonne as well to keep protesters at bay. (Photo by Thomas SAMSON / AFP) (Photo credit should read THOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty Images)
French President Emmanuel Macron (2nd R), and his wife Brigitte welcome Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (2nd L) and his wife Akie Abe at the Biarritz lighthouse, southwestern France, ahead of a working dinner on August 24, 2019. - Shadowed by the threat of global recession, a U.S. trade war with China and the possibility of one against Europe, the posturing by leaders of the G-7 rich democracies began well before they stood together for a summit photo. (Photo by Francois Mori / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read FRANCOIS MORI/AFP/Getty Images)
French President Emmanuel Macron (R), welcomes Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the Biarritz lighthouse, southwestern France, ahead of a working dinner on August 24, 2019. - Shadowed by the threat of global recession, a U.S. trade war with China and the possibility of one against Europe, the posturing by leaders of the G-7 rich democracies began well before they stood together for a summit photo. (Photo by Francois Mori / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read FRANCOIS MORI/AFP/Getty Images)
French President Emmanuel Macron (L), and his wife Brigitte welcome Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the Biarritz lighthouse, southwestern France, ahead of a working dinner on August 24, 2019. - Shadowed by the threat of global recession, a U.S. trade war with China and the possibility of one against Europe, the posturing by leaders of the G-7 rich democracies began well before they stood together for a summit photo. (Photo by Francois Mori / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read FRANCOIS MORI/AFP/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - Photojournalist take pictures as three protesters tear down a barricade during demonstration in the city of Bayonne, south-west France on August 24, 2019, on the sidelines of the annual G7 Summit attended by the leaders of the world's seven richest democracies, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States taking place in the nearby seaside resort of Biarritz. - More than 9,000 anti-G7 protesters joined a mass march across the French-Spanish border as world leaders arrived for a summit in Biarritz just hours after activists clashed with police. Authorities remain on high alert, with Biarritz on lockdown and police deployed en masse in the neighbouring town of Bayonne as well to keep protesters at bay. (Photo by Thomas SAMSON / AFP) (Photo credit should read THOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty Images)
French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte welcome Britain Prime Minister Boris Johnson (C) at the Biarritz lighthouse, southwestern France, ahead of a working dinner on August 24, 2019 on the first day of the annual G7 Summit attended by the leaders of the world's seven richest democracies, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States. - EU leaders rounded on US President Donald Trump over his trade threats at a G7 summit in France overshadowed by trans-Atlantic tensions and worries about the global economy. (Photo by Francois Mori / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read FRANCOIS MORI/AFP/Getty Images)
French CRS riot police stand by in Bayonne, south-west France on August 24, 2019, ahead of expected protests on the sidelines of the annual G7 Summit attended by the leaders of the world's seven richest democracies, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States. - More than 9,000 anti-G7 protesters joined a mass march across the French-Spanish border as world leaders arrived for a summit in Biarritz just hours after activists clashed with police. Authorities remain on high alert, with Biarritz on lockdown and police deployed en masse in the neighbouring town of Bayonne as well to keep protesters at bay. (Photo by Thomas SAMSON / AFP) (Photo credit should read THOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Saturday, August 24, 2019, when the summit of the G7 begins in Biarritz, A demonstration of opposition to the holding of this summit took place between Hendaye (France) and Irun (Spain) bringing together thousands of people, among which altermondialistes , NGO environmental activists and yellow vests. This demonstration followed the counter-summit (GZ-EZ) organized from August 21st to 23rd. It was calm (Photo by Estelle Ruiz/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Saturday, August 24, 2019, when the summit of the G7 begins in Biarritz, A demonstration of opposition to the holding of this summit took place between Hendaye (France) and Irun (Spain) bringing together thousands of people, among which altermondialistes , NGO environmental activists and yellow vests. This demonstration followed the counter-summit (GZ-EZ) organized from August 21st to 23rd. It was calm (Photo by Estelle Ruiz/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Saturday, August 24, 2019, when the summit of the G7 begins in Biarritz, A demonstration of opposition to the holding of this summit took place between Hendaye (France) and Irun (Spain) bringing together thousands of people, among which altermondialistes , NGO environmental activists and yellow vests. This demonstration followed the counter-summit (GZ-EZ) organized from August 21st to 23rd. It was calm (Photo by Estelle Ruiz/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
A man lobs a stone (top) during a protest in the city of Bayonne, south-west France on August 24, 2019, on the sidelines of the annual G7 Summit attended by the leaders of the world's seven richest democracies, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States taking place in the seaside resort of Biarritz. - More than 9,000 anti-G7 protesters joined a mass march across the French-Spanish border as world leaders arrived for a summit in Biarritz just hours after activists clashed with police. Authorities remain on high alert, with Biarritz on lockdown and police deployed en masse in the neighbouring town of Bayonne as well to keep protesters at bay. (Photo by Thomas SAMSON / AFP) (Photo credit should read THOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty Images)
People take part in a demonstration against the G7 Summit, in Irun, Spain, on August 24, 2019. (Photo by Juan Carlos Lucas/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
People take part in a demonstration against the G7 Summit, in Irun, Spain, on August 24, 2019. (Photo by Juan Carlos Lucas/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Around 10.000 people took part in the no G7 demonstration on August 24th in Hendaye (France). The protest was part of the actions against the G7 summit which takes place in the French southwestern seaside resort of Biarritz from August 24 to 26, 2019. (Photo by David Speier/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
People take part in a demonstration against the G7 Summit, in Irun, Spain, on August 24, 2019. (Photo by Juan Carlos Lucas/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (L) speaks with France's President Emmanuel Macron during a bilateral meeting at the Bellevue in Biarritz, south-west France on August 24, 2019, on the first day of the annual G7 Summit attended by the leaders of the world's seven richest democracies, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States. (Photo by PHILIPPE WOJAZER / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE WOJAZER/AFP/Getty Images)
People play drums during a demonstration in Bayonne, south-west France on August 24, 2019, on the sidelines of the annual G7 Summit attended by the leaders of the world's seven richest democracies, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States. - More than 9,000 anti-G7 protesters joined a mass march across the French-Spanish border as world leaders arrived for a summit in Biarritz just hours after activists clashed with police. Authorities remain on high alert, with Biarritz on lockdown and police deployed en masse in the neighbouring town of Bayonne as well to keep protesters at bay. (Photo by GAIZKA IROZ / AFP) (Photo credit should read GAIZKA IROZ/AFP/Getty Images)
French gendarmes stand guard next to mesh movable barriers and check people at the entrance of the Vieux Bayonne district in Bayonne, south-west France on August 24, 2019, on the sidelines of the annual G7 Summit attended by the leaders of the world's seven richest democracies, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States. - More than 9,000 anti-G7 protesters joined a mass march across the French-Spanish border as world leaders arrived for a summit in Biarritz just hours after activists clashed with police. Authorities remain on high alert, with Biarritz on lockdown and police deployed en masse in the neighbouring town of Bayonne as well to keep protesters at bay. (Photo by Thomas SAMSON / AFP) (Photo credit should read THOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty Images)
BIARRITZ, FRANCE - AUGUST 24: (L-R) British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron take their seats during a G7 coordination meeting with the Group of Seven European members at the Hotel du Palais on August 24, 2019 in Biarritz, France. The French southwestern seaside resort of Biarritz is hosting the 45th G7 summit from August 24 to 26. High on the agenda will be the climate emergency, the US-China trade war, Britain's departure from the EU, and emergency talks on the Amazon wildfire crisis. (Photo by Andrew Parsons - Pool/Getty Images)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson meets Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the G7 summit in Biarritz, France.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson arrives in Biarritz, France, for the annual G7 summit.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson arrives in Biarritz, France, for the annual G7 summit.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson arrives in Biarritz, France, for the annual G7 summit.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson arrives in Biarritz, France, for the annual G7 summit.
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"Ofcom would be the appropriate adjudicator. And at a time of what Johnson calls a national emergency, he should not shy away from scrutiny by Ch4 or any serious news organisation.

"The attitude of Johnson's predecessor, May, and her press secretary – 'what's in it for us?' – is surely inappropriate when as a nation we face our most momentous peacetime decision for generations, how, when and whether we leave the EU."

Channel 4 News' editor Ben de Pear said they are "looking for clarity" following Mr Johnson's cancellation of the interview.

In Ms Byrne's MacTaggart lecture at the Edinburgh TV Festival on Wednesday, she called Mr Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn "cowards" who refuse to hold themselves up to proper scrutiny on television.

The journalist, who is among the longest-serving heads of news and current affairs in British TV, told the festival: "I would never have thought I would say these words: I believe that Mrs Thatcher would agree with me; Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn are cowards.

"She had a word for men like them – 'frit'."

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