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Alex Salmond suspends RT show over Ukraine invasion

Mr Salmond has hosted a weekly show on RT since November 2017

Former First Minister Alex Salmond has suspended his talk show on Russian state broadcasting channel RT.

He had been under increased pressure to stop appearing on the channel because of the crisis in Ukraine.

His successor Nicola Sturgeon had said she was “appalled” that the show had continued and urged him to “reflect”.

An episode was posted on the RT website on Thursday morning, but Mr Salmond has now said the show will end “until peace is re-established”.

He insisted there had never been “a single piece of editorial interference of any kind from RT” in the programme.

The Alex Salmond Show launched on RT in 2017 as a weekly talk show produced by Slainte Media, a company set up by Mr Salmond and fellow ex-SNP MP Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh.

There was criticism of the former SNP leader for appearing on the channel, which was described by Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer as the “personal propaganda tool” of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the government had written to broadcasting watchdog Ofcom asking for a review of RT’s licence to broadcast in the UK.

Ms Sturgeon backed this, and said it was “unthinkable” that Mr Salmond’s show would continue – adding that no SNP politicians would be allowed to appear on the channel.

There were calls for Mr Salmond to lose his position on the Privy Council – a group which advises the Queen – for his continued involvement with it.

The programme did not air in its usual slot on Thursday morning, with RT running rolling news coverage of the Ukraine crisis.

However the latest episode – a half-hour interview with former Lib Dem leader Sir Vince Cable – was posted on the RT website and adverts for it continued to appear on RT during the day.

Sir Vince later said he would not have appeared on the pre-recorded show had he known “the invasion was about to happen”.

Mr Salmond said this show would be “the last one broadcast until peace is re-established”.

He again insisted that RT had never interfered in the running of the production, hitting out at “blatant attacks on freedom of speech from establishment political parties”.

He added: “All wars come to an end. Let us pray that this one will not escalate even further. Now every single person’s efforts should turn to supporting attempts to regain the peace.”

‘Absolute disgrace’

The show’s future was raised briefly at prime minister’s questions on Wednesday, with Lib Dem MP Jamie Stone saying it was an “absolute disgrace that an advisor to the Queen and former first minister of Scotland sees fit to broadcast his half-baked world views week after week on Russian television”.

Mr Johnson said this was a “brilliant, powerful question with which I think the whole House assented”.

Mr Salmond now leads the Alba Party, and its MP Neale Hanvey defended in him in the Commons on Thursday saying negotiations had been “happening in the background” about halting the show.

Mr Johnson replied that “these pleas in defence and mitigation don’t cut much ice with me”.

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