TORY complaints about an ice block stand-in for Boris Johnson in a TV debate have melted away as a watchdog rejected the objections.
Channel 4 used the sculpted block after the Tory leader refused to join its climate debate alongside other political party leaders.
The broadcaster also declined to allow former UK environment secretary Michael Gove – now Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster – to take part in his place.
That prompted an official complaint from the Conservative Party, but yesterday regulator Ofcom poured cold water on the move, saying the prop “was not a representation of the Prime Minister personally” and that “little editorial focus was given to it, either visually or in references made by the presenter or debate participants”.
In its ruling, Ofcom’s Election Committee said: “Broadcasters have editorial freedom in determining the format of any election debate.
“Depending on the circumstances, they may choose to proceed without having agreed the participation of a particular political party or politician, providing they take steps to ensure the programme complies with our due impartiality and elections rules.
“In this case, the Election Committee concluded that, across the one-hour debate and a subsequent news programme, Channel 4’s use of editorial techniques ensured that the Conservatives’ viewpoint on climate and environmental issues was adequately reflected and given due weight.
It added: “The committee also took into account that the globe ice sculpture was not a representation of the Prime Minister personally and little editorial focus was given to it, either visually or in references made by the presenter or debate participants.
“The committee therefore considered that this programme, including the use of the ice sculpture, did not raise issues warranting further investigation under our due impartiality and elections rules.”
An ice sculpture of the globe with “Conservatives” written on it was placed on a podium in place of the Prime Minister, while another was used for Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage, who also snubbed the event.
Gove turned up at the television studio with the Prime Minister’s father Stanley Johnson, before the debate was due to kick off on Thursday, November 28, but was not permitted to take to the stage.
In a statement, Channel 4 said: “We’re pleased that the committee noted in the decision that Channel 4 had given due weight to the viewpoint of the Conservative Party on climate change and environmental policy.”
The Tories described the ice sculpture as “a provocative partisan stunt” which it claimed would “constitute making a political opinion in its own right” and “suggested wider issues of alleged bias by Channel 4” against the Tories.
But Channel 4 said the sculptures were “a metaphor for the melting of the polar ice caps”.
Ofcom said the broadcaster considered these sculptures were “in no way pejorative of either party leader personally or the party which they represent”.