Dorries claims Channel 4 documentary is ‘baseless’ – MPs

Nadine Dorries’ claim that Channel 4 used actors instead of real people in a 2010 documentary about a deprived housing estate was ‘baseless’, MPs have said.

A report from the House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee said the former Culture Secretary’s claims about the Tower Block Of Commons show were not ‘credible’ , adding that deputies had seen “no corroboration”.

The report, published on Thursday, said: ‘We are concerned that Ms Dorries appears to have taken the opportunity, under the protection of privilege, to defame Channel 4’s reputation.

Had she still been Culture Secretary, the committee said it could have referred its comments to the Commons Privileges Committee, which is currently investigating allegations that Boris Johnson misled Parliament over Partygate.

Instead, the committee said it had decided to release its report “to allow the House and its MPs to draw their own conclusions.”

The dispute arose from comments made by Ms Dorries to the committee in May 2022, in which she claimed that some of the residents featured in Tower Block Of Commons “were actually actors”.

Ms Dorries had taken part in the scheme in 2010, which involved MPs spending time living in deprived housing estates across Britain.

Channel 4 and the programme’s creators, Love Productions, investigated his claims but found ‘no evidence to support the allegations’.

Committee chairman Julian Knight wrote twice to Ms Dorries urging her to correct the record, and the former Culture Secretary made ‘clarifications’ but maintained his central claim that actors had been involved.

In its report, the panel said: ‘We find neither the original claims nor the credible clarifications and have seen no substantiation of its claims that Channel 4 and Love Productions used actors in a reality TV show.

“On the other hand, the detailed investigation carried out by Channel 4 gives us the assurance that his assertions are without foundation.

Channel 4 and Tower Block Of Commons creators Love Productions investigated Ms Dorries’ claims (Philip Toscano/PA)

“We are concerned that Ms Dorries appears to have taken the opportunity, under the protection of privilege, to defame the reputation of Channel 4.

‘If Mrs Dorries had remained Secretary of State, pursuing a policy of selling the chain, we might have asked for the referral to the Privileges Committee but, as her demands did not impede the work of the committee and she no longer has a position of power over the future of Channel 4, we are instead releasing this report to allow the House and its MPs to draw their own conclusions.

Mr Knight added: ‘We recognize that those who testify will sometimes make mistakes, but it is vitally important to the integrity of parliamentary oversight that they are subsequently corrected.

“We are disappointed that despite having had several opportunities to reconsider her position, the former Secretary of State has not admitted that her memories may have been incorrect.”

Ms Dorries’ office has been contacted for comment.

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