THE state opening of Parliament was hit by a “censorship” scandal yesterday amid claims that the microphone closest to Dennis Skinner was deliberately turned away from him.
The “beast of Bolsover” has been disrupting the annual pomp and ceremony with cutting one-liners since 1987 and didn’t disappoint fans this year.
As parliamentary security chief Black Rod summoned MPs to the Lords for the Queen’s Speech, Mr Skinner shouted “hands off the BBC” to cheers from the Labour benches.
The quip came a week after Tory Culture Secretary John Whittingdale published controversial proposals for BBC reform which include replacing the independent BBC Trust with a government-appointed board.
The heckle came across loud and clear on TV, but only because MPs in the chamber noticed that the microphone closest to Mr Skinner had been tampered with and told him to use another.
Their suspicions were further raised when Labour MP Mary Creagh attempted to turn it back towards Mr Skinner but found it spun around to face towards the Tory benches.SNP MPs urged Mr Skinner to raise a point of order with the Speaker and another shouted “censorship.”
Labour MP Clive Lewis posted a photo of Mr Skinner and Labour colleague Ian Lavery inspecting the microphone later and said that “technicians in the House of Commons turned the microphone away.”
A Commons spokeswoman told the Star: “The microphone closest to Black Rod was turned towards him so that his announcement could be heard more clearly.
“No other microphones were adjusted and Dennis Skinner’s traditional contribution was heard clearly thanks to the microphone closest to his seat.”