Lib Dems Lodge Formal Complaint To ITV For Excluding Jo Swinson From Debate

2 November 2019, 16:57 | Updated: 2 November 2019, 18:20

Lib Dems Launch Formal Complaint Against ITV For Excluding Jo Swinson From Debate
Lib Dems Launch Formal Complaint Against ITV For Excluding Jo Swinson From Debate. Picture: PA

The Liberal Democrats have lodged a formal complaint to ITV for excluding Jo Swinson from their election debate.

They warned that "failing to have Liberal Democrats in the debate is misrepresenting the current political reality".

In a letter to ITV's Chief Executive, the President of the Lib Dems Sal Brinton said: "Voters of this country deserve to hear from a Remainer on the debate stage, not just from the two men who want to deliver Brexit.”

She added: "We no longer live in a two-party system, as polling for the last six months demonstrates, and the media should keep up.

We have a hung Parliament and the Liberal Democrats are polling very close to, and sometimes ahead of, the Labour Party."

She also spoke about the importance of including a woman in the debate.

She wrote: "The importance of representation cannot be underestimated. I want women and girls watching to see Jo Swinson in the debate and know that they too could be a candidate for Prime Minister."

The letter follows the social media campaign from several senior Lib Dems to get Jo Swinson included in the debate.

They circulated a petition and used the hashtag #DebateHer.

MPs such as Luciana Berger, Chuku Umunna and Ed Davey tweeted about it.

Even Anna Soubry, leader of The Independent Group for Change, called on ITV to include her.

The letter raises Section 6.2 of the OfCom Broadcasting Code which states that 'due weight must be given to the coverage of parties and independent candidates during the election period'.

An ITV spokesman said: "ITV intends to offer viewers comprehensive and fairly balanced General Election coverage. This involves a wide range of programming, including a live debate programme in which seven party leaders are invited to take part, as well as a live debate between the Labour and Conservative leaders.

"The debate involving Jeremy Corbyn and Boris Johnson at 8pm on 19th November is one part of two hours of live election broadcasting on ITV that night. 

"At 10pm that evening there will be a special live interview programme in which party leaders will have a chance to set out their own electoral offer and make observations on what's been said in the debate. 

The leaders of the Liberal Democrats, the SNP, the Brexit Party and the Greens have all been invited to take part in that special one hour programme."