Livingstone quits Press TV

The Evening Standard reports:

Ken Livingstone today stepped down from his lucrative role fronting a programme on Iranian state TV.

The London mayoral candidate will stop presenting Epilogue, his monthly book review show, on the English-language Press TV channel from March.

The move came as it was reported that NatWest bank has frozen the channel’s British trading account and plans to close it soon. Mr Livingstone filmed seven shows, three of which have been screened since he became Labour’s candidate for Mayor in September.

Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad launched the international news network in 2007. Run by the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, it was investigated last year by Ofcom after interviewing a jailed Newsweek journalist while he was allegedly in an interrogation room.

Mr Livingstone’s appearances earned him thousands of pounds and put him at odds with Labour leader Ed Miliband, who called last month for the release of an Iranian woman sentenced to death by stoning after her alleged confession to her part in her husband’s murder was shown on Press TV.

Mr Livingstone claimed he had always intended to stop in March and denied he had been ordered to by his party.

His spokesman said: “He had an arrangement predating his selection as Labour candidate to record a number of book review programmes for Press TV, which ends in March.”

Well, that makes it all better then. Let’s just pretend it never happened, huh?

As you may recall, the exiled Iranian Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi was among those voicing outrage about Livingstone’s Press TV gig.

(Hat tip: Hugh)

habibi adds: have a look at him here saying “Press TV is one of the few TV channels anywhere in the West that fairly presents the Palestinian case”.

Alan A adds:

I would imagine that his resignation has nothing at all to do with a fear that he might not be paid.