The Conservative MP representing the constituency with the country’s largest Jewish population has defended his paid appearance on a Kremlin-backed anti-Israel TV news channel by claiming: “I went on to poke fun at Putin.”
Mike Freer, Finchley and Golders Green MP, was among a group of six of Tories revealed to have been paid up to £1,000 for appearances on RT, which is widely criticised as being a “propaganda channel” for Russia President Vladimir Putin.
In one appearance on RT’s Sam Delaney’s News Thing programme, Mr Freer was interviewed by the host about his entry into politics and his family’s working class Labour background.
He was then asked by Mr Delaney about his “conviction” to the issue of Israel/Palestine.
Mr Freer said: “I do support a Palestinian state — I put that on record. But I don’t believe in a premature recognition. I certainly would do nothing that would encourage Hamas or Hezbollah.
“My strong support of Israel is partly as a fact of my Christian upbringing — but more importantly if you had to live in one country in the Middle East which one would you choose.
“If you are a woman, a gay man, a Christian or Buddhist, you choose Israel because that is where you have freedom of speech.”
In an earlier appearance on the show, Mr Freer spoke of his support for Theresa May calling her “by far the most competent” person to be Tory leader.
Asked about his appearances on RT, Mr Freer told the JC: “I appeared on Sam Delaney’s News Thing, an independent production that is satirical in nature. I went on to poke fun at Putin, which I did.”
RT — previously known as Russia Today — has taken a hard-line anti-Israel stance and regularly features anti-Zionist commentators as guests.
Labour MPs were recently revealed to have appeared on RT 26 times since Jeremy Corbyn became leader.
RT was founded under President Putin in 2005 and is regarded by critics in the West as a disinformation network.
Ofcom, the broadcast regulator, has repeatedly reprimanded the channel for breaching rules on impartiality.