The owner of London Live, the London Evening Standard and The Independent has told Russia Today (RT) that any action by Ofcom against the broadcaster would reflect badly on Britain.

In an interview with RT, which has had a series of run ins with the regulator, Alexander Lebedev said: “I don’t seriously think that, for example, they could come harsher against you. It would really portray the British system – ‘the government against the media’ – in a wrong way.

“The British system, which really looks like a cradle of free speech, could tolerate things like that (RT). So I was really smiling when I bumped into that you were being rigorously reprimanded by Ofcom, and think that the compromise would be found.”

Some media commentators regard RT as a mouthpiece for President Putin. In November Ofcom threatened the channel, which has Freeview distribution, with statutory sanctions after the Kremlin-backed news channel breached broadcasting regulations on impartiality with its coverage of the Ukraine crisis.

RT launched a service dedicated specifically to the UK at the end of October.