A LABOUR MP has claimed that the BBC cancelled an interview with him after pressure from Russian oligarchs.

Chris Bryant, the representative for the Rhondda in South Wales, claimed he had been due to appear on BBC 5 Live on Tuesday morning before the corporation cancelled.

Ahead of the planned interview time, reportedly 7:30am, Bryant wrote on Twitter: “Interesting @bbc5live just cancelled an interview with me at 7.30 because their lawyers couldn’t vet what I was going to say beforehand.”

He added: “I guess some oligarchs’ lawyers are cracking down on free speech. Sad that broadcasters are playing their game.”

The accusations of oligarchs’ interference in free broadcasting caused outrage on social media, with many suggesting it meant the UK’s libel laws needed reform.

The Daily Mirror’s Rachel Wearmouth labelled Bryant’s claims “disturbing”, while public policy professor Will Jennings, from the University of Southampton, branded them "completely unacceptable".

It comes as the UK Government looks to fast-track plans to tackle “dirty money” and expose foreign oligarchs who launder their wealth through the UK’s property market.

Following the package of sanctions announced by Boris Johnson (below) last week, ministers will table the Economic Crime (Transparency and Enforcement) Bill – previously expected later in the session – in Parliament on Tuesday.

The National: Prime Minister Boris Johnson updating MPs in the House of Commons on the latest situation regarding Ukraine, following Russia's invasion. Picture date: Thursday February 24, 2022. PA Photo. See PA story POLITICS Ukraine. Photo credit should read: PA

The legislation will establish a new register of overseas entities requiring foreign owners of property in the UK to declare their true identity, in a move intended to ensure criminals cannot hide behind secretive webs of shell companies.

People who fail to comply will have restrictions placed on selling the property, while those who are found to have broken the rules will face anything from fines of up to £500 a day to up to five years in prison.

The legislation will apply retrospectively to property bought by overseas owners up to 20 years ago in England and Wales and since December 2014 in Scotland.

The bill will also strengthen and expand the system of unexplained wealth orders (UWO), which enable law enforcement agencies to seize assets without having to prove they were obtained through criminal activity.

Johnson said: “There is no place for dirty money in the UK. We are going faster and harder to tear back the façade that those supporting Putin’s campaign of destruction have been hiding behind for so long.

“Those backing Putin have been put on notice: there will be nowhere to hide your ill-gotten gains.”

A BBC spokesperson said: “It’s wrong to say we have come under any external pressure; we always make our own independent editorial decisions and it’s not uncommon for interview plans to change.”