Lee Anderson’s GB News interview with Suella Braverman did not break rules, Ofcom says

Ofcom said politicians are allowed to present current affairs programmes as long as they are not standing for election and ‘due impartiality is preserved’

Archie Mitchell
Monday 23 October 2023 13:42 BST
GB News presenter Lee Anderson questions Braverman on illegal migration speech

The media regulator is refusing to investigate a cosy GB News sit-down between Tory vice-chairman Lee Anderson and home secretary Suella Braverman as it was a “current affairs programme”.

Mr Anderson’s interview with the home secretary sparked uproar on social media over the appropriateness of Ms Braverman being grilled by her Conservative colleague.

But despite receiving complaints about the programme, regulator Ofcom said it was fine because it was classed as a “current affairs programme”.

In a separate finding, Ofcom ruled GB News broke impartiality rules during a programme presented by former Brexit Party MEP Martin Daubney, who was standing in for sacked presenter Laurence Fox and interviewed Reform Party leader Richard Tice.

Ofcom said politicians are allowed to present current affairs programmes as long as they are not standing for election and “due impartiality is preserved”.

“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,” it said.

GB News was thrown into a fresh Tory bias row after announcing the home secretary would be interviewed by her own party’s deputy chairman last month.

Mr Anderson, the divisive Ashfield MP, met the home secretary for a cosy sit down after her return from the US, where she delivered a speech calling for a crackdown on gay and female asylum seekers.

GB News was found to have breached impartiality rules when chancellor Jeremy Hunt was interviewed by married Tory MPs Esther McVey and backbencher Philip Davies ahead of his spring budget in March.

Ofcom’s rules say: “News, in whatever form, must be reported with due accuracy and presented with due impartiality. No politician may be used as a newsreader, interviewer or reporter in any news programmes unless, exceptionally, it is editorially justified.”

But, announcing its decision not to pursue complaints about the latest GB News show, Ofcom said: “The programme included an appropriately wide range of significant views on immigration and border control, which were given due weight.”

The regulator has 12 other investigations open into GB News, which Ofcom said it will “conclude as quickly as possible”.

Last month it launched an official investigation into an episode of GB News show Dan Wootton Tonight after receiving more than 8,000 complaints about comments made by Mr Fox about female journalist Ava Evans.

Former actor Mr Fox has since been fired by the channel over the comments, in which he asked of Ms Evans “who would want to shag her?”

Also on Monday, Ofcom ruled Mr Daubney’s GB News interview with Mr Tice breached impartiality rules.

During the broadcast on June 16, Mr Daubney gave his views on immigration and asylum policy in the context of controversy over small boats crossing the English Channel, and also interviewed Mr Tice.

Ofcom said the programme did not meet the "heightened impartiality requirements" which apply to programmes discussing "matters of major political controversy and current public policy".

It said Mr Tice presented his views on the programme "with insufficient challenge" and the "limited alternative views presented in the programme were dismissed".

"The programme therefore did not include and give due weight to an appropriately wide range of significant views, as required by the Code," Ofcom said.

"GB News accepted that the content was not compliant with the heightened special impartiality requirements in the Code."

It added: "We expect GB News to take careful account of this decision in its compliance of future programming."

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