Ken Clarke claims Downing Street prevented him from appearing on BBC Question Time by lying about his health

'Downing Street was becoming less than happy with my regular appearances'

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Tory veteran Ken Clarke has claimed Downing Street told Question Time he was ill and unable to attend the show to keep him off the air.

The former Tory Cabinet minister said he was "particularly annoyed" Downing Street had "plotted against and deceived" him. 

In his book, which is being serialised by The Sunday Times, Mr Clarke said he had arranged to appear on Question Time in the spring of 2014, when the programme was due to be broadcast from Welbeck College in Nottinghamshire.

However, he said he knew "Downing Street was becoming less than happy with my regular appearances".

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At the last minute, he was told by Downing Street his appearance was cancelled because the programme had accidentally booked two Conservative ministers. 

"Puzzled" by the turn of events, Mr Clarke called the producer to find out what had gone wrong.

He claimed she was "amazed" at his question. "She had been told by the Downing Street press office that I was ill and unable to attend," he wrote.

"The press officers had kindly offered to help the programme by finding somebody else to take my place."

He added: "This was a silly and childish incident and I was reinstated on the programme and took part in the normal way.

"I was, however, particularly annoyed about being plotted against and deceived, and my personal attachment to continued office in the government was undoubtedly diminished."

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