Zac Goldsmith
Ofcom has rejected a complaint by MP Zac Goldsmith, who claimed he was unfairly treated in programmes broadcast last year by Channel 4 News.

Goldsmith's complaint related to a July news report by the broadcaster on an investigation into parliamentary candidates' campaign expenses during the 2010 general election, focusing on his campaign for the Richmond Park and North Kingston constituency, as well as a live studio interview on Channel 4 News the following day.

Following broadcast of the Channel 4 news item Goldsmith, who is also director and owner of environmental magazine Ecologist, accused the broadcaster of preventing him from responding.

At the time, Channel 4 said Goldsmith had been informed of the investigation, carried out with the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, a week prior to its broadcast.

The MP then appeared on the news programme in a live studio interview on 16 July, in a heated discussion with presenter Jon Snow. Goldsmith alleged that he had asked to do an interview on 15 July, but that programme makers refused. Later in the interview Snow advised him to go to Ofcom if he had a complaint about Channel 4 News.

In publication of its decision on the matter today, Ofcom said Goldsmith was given "an appropriate and timely opportunity" to respond to the allegations set out in the initial programme, which also "fairly presented his response" in comments from his agent and the Conservative party, as well as the MP's own interview with Sky News.

The regulator also summarised that "material facts relating to his opportunity to respond to the programme were presented fairly in the 15 July programme" and that the programme did not imply that Goldsmith had chosen not to be interviewed by Channel 4.

It said that material facts relating to his opportunity to respond to the programme were also presented fairly in the 16 July programme "given that Mr Goldsmith was able to put forward his response to all of the assertions relating to his offer to contribute to the 15 July programme".

Jim Gray, editor of Channel 4 News, said he welcomed Ofcom's "thorough handling of the complaints".

"We have always maintained that our investigation into Mr Goldsmith’s election spending, and our dealings with him throughout have been absolutely fair and balanced – so it is pleasing to see Ofcom’s research into his complaints reach the same conclusions.

"When you commit to asking awkward questions you accept that your findings may provoke criticism – so we welcome Ofcom’s thorough handling of the complaints, and their vindication of our journalism. At the centre of all of this remain important questions about the clarity and enforcement of campaign spending limits."

Ofcom's broadcast bulletin offers a detailed account of correspondence between the parties and a transcript of the live studio interview.

Image by Annie Mole on Flickr. Some rights reserved.

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