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Wed, 5 August 2020

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By Hft

Keir Starmer calls on Nicola Sturgeon to publicly 'condemn' Alex Salmond over RT programme

Keir Starmer calls on Nicola Sturgeon to publicly 'condemn' Alex Salmond over RT programme

Alex Salmond has appeared on the channel since 2017

2 min read

Keir Starmer has called on Nicola Sturgeon to publicly "condemn" Alex Salmond for hosting his own talk show on RT.

The Labour leader has hit out at the former First Minister for appearing on the Russian state TV channel as he called for tougher action to tackle "Kremin-backed disinformation".

It comes after a long-awaited intelligence and security committee report on Russia claimed there were "serious distortions in the coverage provided by Russian state-owned international broadcasters such as RT and Sputnik".

Alex Salmond launched his RT show, formerly known as Russia Today, shortly after his election defeat in 2017 alongside co-host and former SNP MP Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh.

But a spokesperson for Sir Keir said he "completely condemns" the former senior political figure for supporting the channel as he called for Nicola Sturgeon to issue a statement.

"We completely condemn it and we would advise the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to do the same," they said.

"She should make a public statement to condemn it."

The comments came after Sir Keir, who sparred with Boris Johnson at PMQs over the Government's handling of the Russia report, said it was time for the PM to "look again" at RT's UK broadcast license.

And facing down criticisms from Mr Johnson after he highlighted the appearance of senior Labour figures, including former leader Jeremy Corbyn, on the channel, he said: "In case he hasn't noticed, the Labour Party is under new management.

"No frontbencher from this party has appeared on Russia Today since I have been leader of this party."

Mr Salmond has previously faced criticism from some within his own former party, with SNP Defence Spokesperson Stewart McDonald saying it was "for shame" that he had decided to host the show.

Speaking in a 2019 debate on Ukraine, Mr McDonald said:  "There are members of my party - one quite high profile former member of my own party who even has his own television show on Russia Today - for shame that they continue to appear."

“It must stop. Otherwise all of the poetic speeches given mean absolutely nothing.”

The SNP have been approached for comment.

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