Ken Livingstone accused of hypocrisy for earning money from anti-gay Iran

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London mayor candidate Ken Livingstone has been criticised for earning thousands of pounds for his work as a presenter for an Iranian TV channel.

Mr Livingstone has presented seven programmes for Press TV since March 2009 and the Evening Standard reported that previous presenters were paid £500 a show.

The channel is run by the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting and was launched by Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2007.

Iran punishes homosexuality with the death penalty, although Mr Ahmadinejad has claimed that there are no gay people in his country.

Mr Livingstone published an LGBT manifesto in September and promised to “fight against homophobia, inequality and discrimination”.

He was mayor of London between 2000 and 2008, before he was defeated by incumbent Tory mayor Boris Johnson and is to run again on a Labour ticket.

LGBTory said he needed to do more to prove his gay-friendly credentials.

Chairman Matthew Sephton said: “It is appalling that Mr Livingstone chooses to be on the payroll of a regime well-known for its barbaric treatment of gay men and women. The Iranian state regularly executes people for being gay and this is simply not acceptable.”

He added: “This is not the only time the judgement of Labour’s Red Ken has been called into question. We all remember his endorsement of Yusuf al-Qaradawi, an Egyptian televangelist who supports female genital mutilation, as a ‘progressive’. If Ken really is a believer in equality he needs to be showing this far more in his actions as well as in
his words.“

Mr Livingstone stood down from his role at Press TV today as it emerged that the channel has had its British bank account frozen.

It is not clear why NatWest has taken the action but it is understood that the account is to be closed shortly.

A spokesman for Mr Livingstone said Tory MP David Davis had appeared on Press TV and that Mr Livingstone had an arrangement to work for Press TV until March.

The spokesman added: “Ken Livingstone has a strong record of supporting and promoting lesbian and gay rights, often at times when it was extremely unpopular to do so.

“As leader of the Greater London Council he was one of the most prominent supporters of lesbian and gay rights when most politicians refused to say anything or actively opposed them, and when the Tory party was openly promoting homophobia.”