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Prescott threatens to gag Channel 4 probe into his business links with ChinaLord Prescott has threatened to take out an injunction against the Dispatches programmeThe Labour peer is allegedly embroiled in a bitter row with the show's producers
02:08 GMT, 3 December 2012
Visit: Then British Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott spins a tracitional top called 'kongzhu' during a visit at Baijiazhuang Primary School in Beijing in 2006
John Prescott has threatened Channel 4 with an injunction over a TV investigation probing his business links with China, it emerged yesterday.
The Labour peer is allegedly embroiled in a furious row with the producers of a Dispatches documentary that examines his connections with the communist country.
The Chinese Are Coming, which will be broadcast tonight, also looks into the Asian business interests of Lord Prescott’s son Johnathan.
Since stepping down as an MP in 2010, the former deputy prime minister has visited China numerous times and has ties to the China Centre for International Economic Exchanges, a think tank set up by outgoing premier Wen Jiabao.
The programme tells ‘the behind-the-scenes story of the Dalai Lama’s visit to Britain, and reveals details of how British politicians from the Highlands of Scotland to the heart of Westminster are influenced by the Chinese government’.
It focuses on the commercial interests and economic power of China, including the lobbying activity of telecoms firm Huawei, whose UK activities are under investigation by MPs.
The company has spent more than 90,000 over two years lobbying MPs and ministers.
Earlier this year, Lord Prescott, 74, tweeted a picture of himself with his new Huawei smartphone.
His son Johnathan, a property developer, has faced scrutiny in the past over links between his business and his father’s political responsibilities.
When Lord Prescott was in government and living in his grace-and-favour apartment in Admiralty House, his son showed building contractors round the property. He denied business had been discussed.
Such is Lord Prescott’s apparent loyalty to the regime in Beijing, that organisers of a business summit claim he pulled out of a meeting earlier this year because exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama – a fierce critic of China’s human rights record – was a major speaker.
Lord Prescott has vigorously denied these claims, adding he had no contact with the Chinese Embassy over his decision to miss the conference. Since stepping down as an MP for Hull East, Lord Prescott has made regular trips to China.
In June last year, he went to Beijing on a junket paid for by the China Centre for International Economic Exchanges.
Weeks later, he visited Shanghai to be awarded an honorary degree from Ningbo University.
Frequent visitor: A beaming John Prescott in Beijing in 2005
Two months after that, in September, he visited one of the world’s fastest developing cities, Chongqing, to attend the opening of a hotel.
The year before he met Bo Xilai, the disgraced former communist party chief of the city, whose wife Gu Kailai was convicted over the murder of British businessman, Neil Heywood.
The meetings were arranged during a visit to Chongqing where Lord Prescott was billed as a speaker at a conference.
He did not have to declare the trip in any register of interests because he was neither an MP or a peer at the time.
Earlier this month Lord Prescott failed in his bid to become the Police Commissioner for Humberside.
If he had won, he would have taken home an estimated 155,000 from taxpayers in salary and pension payouts.
As of last night, the Dispatches programme was still in the process of being edited.
When contacted by the Mail last night, Lord Prescott declined to comment.
- Dispatches: The Chinese Are Coming is on Channel 4 tonight at 8pm.