By Tim Parsons-
Former BBC journalist, Gutto Harri, has accused the right wing television channel , GB News of defamation, after the channel issued out statement accusing the journalist of breaching editorial standards. He said the channel had rapidly become a parody of what it proclaimed to be.
Harris did not say whether he would be taking legal action against the channel for defamation, a route he should pursue if his allegation stands up legally. The disappointed journalist instead showed up the channel for its double standards and bad ethics, after revealing that his calls and text messages were ignored- meaning the channel were unable to defend their own position to the man himself.
On Friday, after it was announced that former Ukip leader Nigel Farage “will not be taking the knee for anyone” on his new show, the British media will wait with anticipation to see whether Farage will further expose the channel’s perceived right wing tendencies and plunge the channel’s credibility further downward, or if the outspoken former politician will introduce some professionalism and credibility to the broadcasting channel.
Nigel Farage hired for GB News Image: twitter
Writing in The Sunday Times, Harri, a former BBC correspondent and advisor to Boris Johnson when he was Mayor of London, noted how when he had joined the new channel he “liked and trusted those in charge and supported the broad vision”. His trust had been quickly let down, after his bosses appear to have betrayed him by permitting him to take the knee on air, then suspending him and hanging him out to dry.
Harri ridiculed the channel by declaring that GB News was “rapidly becoming an absurd parody of what it proclaimed to be”, and mocked the channel’s expressed belief in free speech -which he said did not apply when he took the knee in support for the England’s team opposition to racism in football.
Harri said he had discussed taking the knee with colleagues and superiors prior to doing so on-air and was not asked not to do so, in what appears hypocritical of the channel.
“GB News captured the moment and proudly cascaded it through social media,” he wrote. “Watch five minutes of the channel and you’ll see how presenters are encouraged to speak freely, confront sensitive subjects, engage in difficult debates and make a case”.
In a letter written to directly to GB chief executive Angelos Frangopoulos, he continues: “Before I took the knee on air I discussed it with my producer, director, co-presenters and head of newsroom. After I did it, GB News captured the moment and proactively cascaded it on social media.
“Two days later you told me you wanted me to take a break for the summer. You did not say you were briefing papers and issuing a statement that accused me of breaching your editorial standards.
“I asked you to change that on the night – pointing out it was defamatory. You ignored my texts and refused to take my calls. I now see that you’ve hired Nigel Farage who immediately declared in public that he will not be taking the knee.
“Please explain how that does not breach editorial standards , but I did.”
Harri was Boris Johnson’s spokesman during his time as London mayor. He is also a regular at Hay festival and on its board of directors.
He said the resignation of John McAndrew as director of programming – a “decent, experienced professional executive who hired me” – had left him with no option but to follow suit.
Backing England Football Team
In his letter Harri writes: “You took me off air for backing the England football team making a simple public statement against racism while arguing that GB News is about celebrating the best of Britain, defending free speech, having the debates others won’t have and combatting the cancel culture. You are intelligent enough to see what an absurd parody of that your station has become.”
GB News is left with egg on its face in this scenario. The fact Harri actually discussed his decision to take the knee with his bosses before hand, leaves the news channel already showing its lack of principles and morals in the way it treated its own member of staff.