Michael Cockerell: MPs plotted to sabotage Commons documentary by pushing over cameraman - Press Gazette

Michael Cockerell: MPs plotted to sabotage Commons documentary by pushing over cameraman

MPs plotted to sabotage a fly-on-the-wall documentary about the House of Commons by pushing over a cameraman, it has been claimed. (Picture: Reuters)

The plan was apparently hatched by a small group of backbenchers who were unhappy that the television crew were being allowed to film in the chamber.

Journalist Michael Cockerell revealed the scheme – which was foiled by parliamentary staff – as he launched his Inside the Commons documentary.

The team were given unprecedented access to the House for the four-part series, which is part of the BBC's season to mark the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta.

But while some MPs were happy to participate, others regarded the project as an intrusion.

Cockerell described an incident when cameras were allowed on to the floor of the Commons for the first time during the weekly Prime Minister's Questions set piece.

Usually proceedings in the chamber are only captured from high fixed camera positions.

"There was a plan, which was thwarted, by some backbenchers to knock our cameraman over and get proceedings suspended," he said.

"It was the Serjeant-at-Arms in charge of security and there was a sense that they understood what was planned … they averted it.

"These people know a lot of what is going on all the time."

Cockerell refused to speculate on who was involved in the scheme, which is not featured in the programme because it did not come to fruition. But he said a small number of "right wing" Tories and Labour MPs had voiced objections to the documentary.

He stressed that many others were eager to feature.

David Cameron and Ed Miliband talk about their experience of PMQs, with the Prime Minister saying: "About five minutes beforehand you think, 'Oh, you know, have I got to do this again?'"

The Labour leader says: "I find the anticipation is worse than the reality."

Conservative backbencher Charlotte Leslie and Labour's Sarah Champion both give an insight into their work at parliament.

Former Clerk Sir Robert Rogers, who retired while the documentary was being filmed, tells of plans to modernise the Commons and shows the team the extent of the repairs that are needed to the famous old building.

Cockerell said the Commons authorities had been allowed to see the finished documentary, but had not requested any substantive changes.



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