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Channel 4 News ‘integrity underscored’ by Ofcom decision not to investigate Reform UK actor claim

Farage is also in disputes with the BBC and the Mail on Sunday.

By Press Gazette

Ofcom will not investigate Channel 4 News after Nigel Farage’s Reform UK claimed the broadcaster used an actor as a “plant” in its undercover investigation into his campaign.

The UK watchdog said it had received more than 270 complaints about a Channel 4 News programme titled Undercover Inside Reform’s campaign, which saw a canvasser named Andrew Parker filmed using a racial slur to describe Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

After the expose aired, Reform’s party secretary Adam Richardson said in a letter to the Electoral Commission that it was “entirely evident that Mr Parker was a plant within the Channel 4 news piece”, adding that the broadcast “cannot be described as anything short of election interference”.

On Wednesday, Ofcom said after “urgently” assessing the complaints against the due accuracy, due impartiality and offence rules under the Broadcasting Code, “we have concluded that they do not raise substantive issues warranting further investigation”.

A spokesperson for Channel 4 News said: “Since this report aired, Channel 4 News has strongly stood up for its accurate, rigorous and duly impartial reporting, which speaks for itself.

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“Ofcom’s decision underscores the integrity of Channel 4 News’s journalism and high editorial standards.

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“The programme will continue to refute any claims that we – or the production company we worked with – knew or paid the Reform UK canvasser, Mr Andrew Parker.

“We met Mr Parker for the first time at Reform UK’s campaign headquarters in Clacton, and he was filmed secretly via the undercover investigation.”

The row with Channel 4 stems from an undercover report on activists involved in Farage’s bid to win a Westminster seat at the eighth attempt.

The footage showed Mr Parker using the racist term about Sunak and suggesting migrants should be used as “target practice”.

Another canvasser described the Pride flag as “degenerate” and suggested members of the LGBT community are paedophiles.

It comes as Farage is embroiled in a dispute with the BBC, claiming the audience for Friday’s Question Time special was “rigged” and refusing to appear on the flagship Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg show unless the corporation apologises.

A BBC spokesperson has refuted the claims.

Farage has also threatened to sue the Mail on Sunday over a front-page report headlined “Zelensky: Farage is infected with ‘virus of Putin’”, which he said put words into the mouth of the Ukraine leader.

Email pged@pressgazette.co.uk to point out mistakes, provide story tips or send in a letter for publication on our "Letters Page" blog

Select and enter your email address Weekly insight into the big strategic issues affecting the future of the news industry. Essential reading for media leaders every Thursday. Your morning brew of news about the world of news from Press Gazette and elsewhere in the media. Sent at around 10am UK time. Our weekly does of strategic insight about the future of news media aimed at US readers. A fortnightly update from the front-line of news and advertising. Aimed at marketers and those involved in the advertising industry.
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