The real reason you're not seeing a lot more about the Evgeny Lebedev and Boris Johnson story
The response from the BBC and Fleet Street to this story has been strangely muted
My interviews on LBC were fairly straightforward and I was allowed to talk at length about the story and the significance of Johnson’s relationship with the son of a Russian oligarch and former KGB agent.
My appearance on the BBC was quite different.
I had been invited on to Radio 4’s Media Show to talk about Lebedev, alongside four other guests, including the investigative journalist Paul Caruana Galizia from Tortoise, and Lionel Barber, formerly of the Financial Times.
The show was half an hour long and I was asked just two questions.
The first of my answers was brought to a rapid end by the host after I mentioned Alexander Lebedev’s reported offer to Boris Johnson to act as a back-channel to Putin, following the attempted assassination of Sergei Skripal.
After this, Lionel Barber went on to say that while he didn’t “want to discredit” the reporting by myself and Paul Caruana Galizia, he believed it was perfectly normal for Lebedev to wish to influence politicians. He also expressed his view that it didn’t really matter because Lebedev did not seek to interfere in editorial decisions taken by his journalists.
When the host eventually came back to me I pointed out that Barber’s comment wasn’t quite true, given that two stories initially written about the Lebedev story by journalists at the Evening Standard and Independent over the weekend had later been taken down.
The host again quickly brought an end to my contribution and at the end of the discussion she asked me to stay behind, upon which I was asked for evidence that the articles had been taken down.
I explained that I had seen it myself and would forward the details, which I then did.
Here’s a tweet showing what happened with screengrabs of the removed articles from Gabriel Pogrund of the Times.
However, when I later listened back to the show on BBC Sounds, both my comments about Alexander Lebedev and my comments about the Independent and Evening Standard censoring their own coverage, had been removed by the BBC.
The articles, which had previously been taken down, had also been reinstated at some point after their takedown was highlighted.
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