In yet another crackdown on freedom of speech, the British parliament is considering the revocation of a security pass held by former Labour MP Chris Williamson over hosting a show broadcast on Iran’s international English television news network, Press TV.
According to an exclusive report published by the Daily Mail on Friday, parliamentary authorities were facing calls to rethink the granting of a security pass to Williamson as the 66-year-old fronts a popular show on Press TV.
Williamson, an MP for Derby North between 2017 and 2019 and who served as a shadow minister under former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, enjoys privileged access to the British parliament by holding one of more than 300 passes doled out to former MPs.
The paper said current MPs had expressed fears about a "mouthpiece” for what they claimed to be "hostile foreign governments," and his having “unfettered access” to the parliamentary estate.
“The willingness of these parliamentarians to make utterly baseless accusations about me, while remaining silent about hundreds of MPs acting as lobbyists for the hostile regime in Tel Aviv, reveals their shameless hypocrisy,” Williamson told MailOnline.
The former Labour MP has been a host of Press TV's Palestine Declassified show since March 2022 after previously appearing as a guest on the English language news channel.
The popular show sheds light on the British government’s veiled support for atrocities and aggression perpetrated by the Israeli occupying regime against Palestinians, as well as London’s back channel dealings with Tel Aviv.
“The parliamentary authorities should look to review whether it's proper for someone like Chris Williamson to have unfettered access to the parliamentary estate,” Conservative backbencher Henry Smith told MailOnline.
The Crawley MP, a member of the House of Commons' foreign affairs committee, said he had “no objection” to former MPs continuing to hold parliamentary passes but said it was an issue of “how they are using that.”
“If they are in the pay of hostile foreign governments, the parliamentary authorities should be looking to revoke their pass,” he added.
Iran’s state-run Press TV, banned in Britain since 2013, was recently sanctioned by the European Union as part of the bloc's response to what was claimed to be “Iran's violent crackdown” on rioters sparked after the mid-September death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman of Kurdish descent.
Press TV, which has earned a reputation as the "voice of the voiceless", has faced many attacks from Western countries over the years.
On April 3, 2012, Munich-based media regulator BLM announced it was removing Press TV from the SES Astra satellite, as it purportedly did not have a license to broadcast in Europe.
In November 2012, the Hong Kong-based AsiaSat took Iranian channels off air in East Asia, and in October 2012 Eutelsat and Intelsat stopped broadcasting several Iranian satellite channels, though the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting managed to resume broadcasts after striking deals with smaller companies that are based in other countries.
In July 2013, Press TV was forced off the air in the UK after the media regulator Ofcom revoked its license for allegedly breaching the Communications Act.
In the same year, it was taken off air in North America after the US Treasury Department announced sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB).
Press TV was dropped from the Galaxy 19 satellite platform that allowed it to broadcast in the United States and Canada, without saying when it was dropped.
Press TV’s website can also be accessed at the following alternate addresses: