Saturday 21 October 2017

Johnson turns air blue over journalist's claims

Cahal Milmo in London

BORIS Johnson yesterday launched his second expletive-strewn tirade of the London mayoral election when he swore on camera about the investigative work of a BBC journalist.

With the campaign entering its final 72 hours, Mr Johnson sought to swat aside questions about his dealings with News International by accusing Tim Donovan, the political editor of BBC London, of talking "f***ing b******s" following a report about the London Mayor's attempts to secure sponsorship from Rupert Murdoch's empire.

Mr Johnson's latest brush with controversy followed a report by Mr Donovan which focused on the Tory candidate's meetings with senior NI figures in 2010 shortly after he had dismissed the 'News of the World' phone-hacking scandal in front of the London Assembly as "codswallop".

Mr Johnson continues to lead Mr Livingstone in the polls, but he faced criticism after details were revealed of his meetings with James Murdoch, the heir-apparent to the Murdoch throne, and NI chief executive Rebekah Brooks, in the wake of new claims about phone-hacking published by the 'New York Times' in September 2010.

On a separate occasion, Mr Johnson had lunch as a guest of Mr Murdoch and Ms Brooks during which NI's sponsorship was sought for the Mr Johnson's cable car project across the Thames. In each case, no deal was secured.

When asked yesterday about criticism that such meetings were inappropriate, an irritated Mr Johnson said: "I think it's right to work with the private sector to get contributions that will be for the benefit of London . . . I'm very proud that over the last four years we've got more than £100m (€122m) in sponsorship. You've got to get this on air. Come on, this is the most important thing. Stuff Donovan and his f***ing b*****s."

BBC yesterday broadcast the footage, recorded as Mr Johnson made his way to the final hustings of the campaign, in its lunchtime bulletin with the expletive bleeped out. (© Independent News Service)

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