Former Newsnight broadcaster Paul Mason has been accused of being “aggressive” and “intimidating” on a call with an LBC producer.
Shelagh Fogarty claimed that Mason “bellowed” down the phone at her producer, who was asking him if he would like to talk about the Momentum activist group, she revealed on her radio show today.
Speaking about the incident, Fogarty said: “We invited him onto the programme to use his voice, and instead of saying ‘no thank you, I don’t fancy the idea,’ he bellowed down the phone at my colleague and said ‘this isn’t a story’.
“The fact that Corbyn and Momentum are clearly achieving their aims, I think is a story. Of course it’s a story.
“Paul Mason sees it as something that we should hide. He was telling us what we should be talking about today. He was telling me what I should be talking about today. And it’s that that I have problem with.
“Paul Mason, member of Momentum, support of Jeremy Corbyn, decided it was OK to bellow down the phone at a woman and tell her how to do her job and make her feel intimidated and to be aggressive towards her.
“I don’t think that should ever have any space in British politics.”
Fogarty also claimed that Mason said LBC wanted to “push a Tory agenda”.
Mason had his Guardian column axed following the paper’s move to a more compact tabloid size and has since taken up a column at Novara Media and Open Democracy.
Following Fogarty’s statement, Mason tweeted: “I told LBC to do their jobs and report Carillion going bust instead of obsessing about Corbyn – they thrive on pointless controversy.”
He later alleged that the LBC producer “went nuts” when he asked why they were not running the Carillion story.
In a statement to Press Gazette, Mason said: “At 11.41am I was cold-called by a producer from LBC asking if I would go as a guest on Shelagh Fogerty’s show to talk about the Labour NEC result.
“When I asked why LBC were not covering the Carillion story, which is more important, the producer became agitated and raised her voice. From my recollection I told her: ‘You’re not interested in thousands of people losing their jobs, only having a go at Corbyn. You are a public service broadcaster. You should be impartial. Do your job’.
“When she began speaking over me in a loud voice I ended the conversation. I thought at the time it was a strange way to treat a guest.
“I reject entirely as false and defamatory any suggestion that my response was ‘aggressive’ or ‘intimidating’.
“Then, without trying to contact me for response – and with no independent verification or second source – Ms Fogerty launched into what her own marketing department immediately released as an “epic rant” against me, imputing various views to me that I did not express – and could not have expressed because according to my phone records the call lasted exactly one minute.
“Fogerty then outlined numerous political criticisms of Labour, Corbyn etc which confirmed my view that this station is primarily a right wing propaganda network, whose marketing strategy now includes reporting hearsay private conversations with potential guests in order to generate controversy.”
The editor of Novara Media, Aaron Bastani, backed Mason, tweeting: “The only good thing about LBC is the callers. During election it was great because station had to address such a broad range of issues. Such a shame.”
LBC presenter James O’Brien told Mason that he had discussed the collapse of Carillion for three hours in the last two days on his show alone.
Picture: Reuters/Toby Melville