Culture secretary allegedly ‘misled’ MPs over Channel 4 privatisation

Culture secretary John Whittingdale has been attacked by Labour’s Maria Eagle for allegedly misleading MPs over plans to privatise Channel 4, after it emerged he met a cabinet office minister to discuss ‘reform’ options just days before declaring privatisation was not an option.

John Whittingdale, Channel 4

The meeting was only made public following a freedom of information request and apparently contradicts repeated assertions by Whittingdale that there were no active discussions pertaining to a sell-off.

Speaking to the Guardian, Eagle said: “The secretary of state has misled the culture, media and sport committee", adding that Whittingdale’s actions were "totally unacceptable".

News of the apparent sell-off plan was only revealed after a government official was photographed at the door to Downing Street with papers discussing just such a move.

Whittingdale then stumbled when pressed on whether privatisation proposals were in train during his committee appearance by SNP MP John Nicholson when he conceded some doubt on the matter.

Whittingdale said: “I’m trying to think. Well, they weren’t under active discussion at the time that I appeared before the committee.

“We started looking at the future of Channel 4, the sustainability of Channel 4 and then as part of that the option of seeking an external investor was raised but I think strictly speaking, when I appeared before the committee, we had not begun those discussions.”