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UK Politics

Clause in Emirates Air Line contract prevents Boris Johnson and TfL from doing deals with Israel or criticising UAE

A further clause in the contract, obtained through a Freedom of Information request, agrees that TfL will adhere to UAE's foreign policy in its future dealings

The contract setting out the terms of sponsorship for the Emirates Air Line, a cable car over the River Thames, effectively bars Boris Johnson and Transport for London (TfL) from criticising the Emirati government or Royal Family, a Freedom of Information request has revealed.

The contract also states that TfL agree to abide by United Arab Emirates foreign policy when entering into contracts and partnerships relating to the cable car.

This includes a ban on future sales to any entity with which the state does not have diplomatic ties - which includes Israel.

A clause in the contract states that no member of TfL shall make "any statement in connection with the subject matter of this contract that is disparaging or defamatory of the Sponsor, any member of the Emirates Group, or any person forming any part of the Government of Dubai and/or the Federal Government of the United Arab Emirates or any member of any of the Royal Families of the United Arab Emirates."

However, TfL have defended the contract, saying it does not compromise the organisation's freedom of expression and is par for the course with such deals.

Danny Price, TfL’s head of the Emirates Air Line, said: “Nothing in the contract prevents the expression of opinion about the scheme. We would always expect our spokespeople to base their statements upon facts, and would therefore be able to offer whatever assessment of the scheme we saw fit."

The former Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, told The Huffington Post UK that he would not have signed a contract containing these clauses.

"The only people likely to fund this were a medieval dictatorship that wanted some kind of status from it. I just think, [we should have] let the Emirates walk away," he said.

"The idea that no future Mayor or employee of TfL can criticise a medieval dictatorship is absolutely unacceptable.

"But Boris just doesn't do detail. He was very busy writing a book about the history of London at the time."