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Ofcom GB News probes: One down, 12 to go

GB News breached impartiality rules in an interview with Reform Party leader Richard Tice, Ofcom has found as it concluded the first of 13 investigations currently ongoing into the controversial broadcaster.

Former MEP Martin Daubney (main picture) was presenting Laurence Fox’s now defunct show on June 16, with multi-millionaire Salford University graduate and Brexit Party co-founder Tice featuring as a guest during a discussion on immigration.

Ofcom investigated after receiving a complaint about the programme and found that Tice was not “sufficiently challenged” on his views and that “the limited alternative views presented were dismissed.”

Daubney, who is himself a former deputy leader of Tice’s Reform Party – website front page header “BROKEN BRITAIN Britain Needs Net Zero Immigration” – said the government “has lost the plot on illegal immigration” as the story was introduced, accompanied by text on screen reading: “Migration Nation.”

He went on to challenge the effectiveness of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s Stop the Boats policy, adding that things can “get a lot worse if Labour get into power because like Rishi, Keir Starmer likes to talk tough on borders, but like Rishi, he’ll be another chocolate teapot”.

“We no longer know who walks among us. Of course, they’re not all bad apples. Some may genuinely be fleeing war zones, but they could have claimed asylum in France.”

This was before Daubney’s guest was introduced. Tice then joined the host and added: “We should definitely declare there is a national security threat… you then make it absolutely clear that zero are allowed to resettle here.”

Ofcom said it recognised GB News’ right to freedom of expression, but added: “In light of the likely similarity of the views of the participants in this programme on the major matter being discussed, the licensee should have taken additional steps to ensure that due impartiality was preserved.”

The watchdog noted that “in particular, Mr Tice was allowed to present Reform UK’s policies on a matter of major political controversy and major matter relating to current public policy without significant challenge from Mr Daubney. We also took into account that Mr Daubney and Mr Tice presented similar views on the matters being discussed.”

Ofcom added: “We expect GB News to take careful account of this decision in its compliance of future programming.”

GB News said that the intention of the production team had been to preserve due impartiality through the inclusion of challenging questioning during the interview, but that this had not happened to a sufficient extent. It apologised for the breaches, accepted the content was not compliant and said that relevant staff “will receive further training focused on the issues raised by this broadcast.”

Seperately, the media regulator has said it will not investigate a GB News sit-down interview between Tory vice-chairman Lee Anderson and home secretary Suella Braverman as it was a current affairs programme.

Anderson’s interview with the home secretary sparked anger on social media over the appropriateness of Braverman being “grilled” by her own party’s vice-chair.

“Having assessed the nature and format of the programme – which included the combination of a pre-recorded interview, in-depth studio analysis and panel discussion – we were satisfied it was a current affairs programme,” Ofcom said.

Ofcom said that it has “12 further investigations open into GB News, which we are working to conclude as quickly as possible”.

Programmes hosted by Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg, West Yorkshire MP Philip Davies and his Cheshire MP wife and co-presenter Esther McVey, and the high-profile recent Dan Wooton show are among those currently being investigated.

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