BBC confronts top Tory over Boris Johnson as Church condemns PM’s ‘disgraceful slur’


Sources say Boris Johnson claimed the BBC and Archbishop were keener to criticize him than Putin. But BBC presenter Justin Webb told Tory Paul Scully it was a ‘smokescreen’ while a Church of England official said it was a ‘disgraceful slur’

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Boris Johnson: Webb grills Scully on PM’s reported BBC comments

Boris Johnson has been blasted by a Church of England official and a top Tory has been confronted by the BBC over the PM’s “disgraceful slur” on the two organizations in a private Tory meeting.

The Church hit out today after a source claimed the “bullish” Prime Minister hit back at “criticism on the BBC and from senior members of the clergy” of his plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda.

And a BBC presenter accused the PM of a “smokescreen”, “attacking the people he really ought not to be” to deflect from Partygate.

A source close to the PM claimed he complained clergymen had “coincidentally had been less vociferous in their condemnation on Easter Sunday of Putin than they were of our policy on illegal immigrants”.

The comment came in a private meeting of Tory MPs hours after Mr Johnson apologized for being fined over a Downing Street party.

Two other MPs at the meeting said they did not recall hearing this remark.

But it prompted outrage, with the Church of England’s head of news John Bingham saying if the reports were true it was a “disgraceful slur”.







Boris Johnson out for a jog this morning
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Nigel Howard)

He pointed out the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, had publicly condemned Mr Putin’s invasion of Ukraine as an “act of great evil”.

Likewise, a Tory minister was confronted by the BBC after the Corporation’s reporters risked their lives to cover the war in Ukraine.

Today program presenter Justin Webb demanded of Paul Scully: “Can you come up with an occasion when Boris Johnson has put his life on the line for the truth, as Lyse Doucet has, as Jeremy Bowen has, as Clive Myrie has?”

Business Minister Mr Scully replied: “It’s not something that I can comment on, in terms of the fact that his view on the BBC’s approach to Putin.”

But Mr Webb continued: “He’s changing the subject, it’s a smoke screen isn’t it, he’s attacking the people he really ought not to be attacking.”







Paul Scully, a minister, was asked by the BBC if he could name a time the PM risked his life for truth
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BBC)

Mr Scully said: “I don’t remember the comment particularly so I am trying to explain the context I believe he may have been trying to make it, but it is speculation.

“I know there has been some excellent coverage from the BBC on the ground in Ukraine and that is invaluable.”

Mr Scully distanced himself from the reported comment, saying: “I am not attacking the BBC”.

Mr Johnson used Tory support for the Rwanda plan to encourage his MPs to move on from Partygate at a behind-closed-doors meeting of his parliamentary party.

Under the plan, anyone who arrived “illegally” in the UK under a new crackdown – such as on a Channel dinghy or stored in a fridge truck – can be deemed “inadmissible” to claim asylum in Britain.

The UK will then detain them before forcing them onto a charter flight nearly 5,000 miles away to Rwanda, and telling them to make an asylum claim there instead.







Anyone who arrives “illegally” in the UK under a new crackdown – such as on a Channel dinghy or stored in a fridge truck – can be sent to Rwanda
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PA)

Home Secretary Priti Patel issued a rare last-minute ‘ministerial direction’ to force the scheme to go ahead – after her Permanent Secretary warned he could not allow it without her written order.

Matthew Rycroft said while he was satisfied “it is regular, proper and feasible for this policy to proceed”, he could not guarantee it would sufficiently deter people from making dangerous Channel crossings to provide value for money.

Archbishop Justin Welby raised “serious ethical questions” about the policy in his Easter Sunday address and said it cannot “stand the judgment of God.”

In the sermon, the archbishop said “subcontracting out our responsibilities, even to a country that seeks to do well, like Rwanda, is the opposite of the nature of God who himself took responsibility for our failures.”

Sources said Mr Johnson accused “senior members of the clergy” of having “misconstructed the policy”.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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