More than 100 British MPs support bill to block UAE takeover of The Telegraph

More than 100 British MPs have signed a letter backing powers to block RedBird IMI's takeover of the Telegraph, the Sunday Telegraph, and the Spectator. RedBird IMI is an investment vehicle funded and 75 per cent owned by IMI (International Media Investments). IMI is a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi Media Investment Corporation (ADMIC), an entity owned by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan, vice-president of the UAE and a brother of the Emirates' ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan.

The letter, signed by MPs from five different parties, "strongly urges" the government to provide Parliament with a vote on foreign power acquisitions of UK news media organisations. If foreign governments can purchase major newspaper and media organisations, the freedom of the press has the potential to be seriously undermined, the letter says. "No other democracy in the world has allowed a media outlet to be controlled by a foreign government. This is a dangerous Rubicon we should not cross."

The MPs ask Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer to accept the amendment to the Digital Markets Bill tabled in the House of Lords. The amendment, which is due to be debated in the House of Lords next week, would require Parliament's approval before a foreign government could purchase UK news media organisations.

Conservative MP  Robert Jenrick, a former cabinet minister, organised the letter. It was signed by former Cabinet ministers Chris Grayling, Sir John Redwood, ThérÈse Coffey, Sir Simon Clarke, Robert Buckland, Stephen Crabb, Sir Iain Duncan Smith, Theresa Villiers and Sir Geoffrey Cox. Most of the signatories are Conservatives.

The letter welcomes Secretary Frazer's decision to instruct the UK's communications regulator Ofcom and the Competition and Market Authority to investigate the UAE-backed takeover of The Telegraph. "There are well-evidenced concerns about the potential for editorial influence and censorship by the UAE", the MPs say.

Ofcom has until 11 March to deliver its report to the Culture Secretary.