Sunday, 3 Mar 2024

Lee Anderson issues blunt two-word response to Ofcom verdict

Lee Anderson’s interview with Suella Braverman did not break strict impartiality rules, media watchdog Ofcom has concluded – prompting the outspoken Tory Party deputy chairman to insist he was “as impartial as they come”.

Mr Anderson’s chat with the Home Secretary prompted many on social media to voice their concerns about the appropriateness of her being quizzed by a Tory colleague.

However, in a ruling issued today, the regulator said it would not be taking the complaints any further because Mr Anderson’s GB News show is classified as a “current affairs programme”.

The MP for Ashfield this morning declared victory in a bullish post on X, formerly Twitter, saying: “Who Knew?

“We all did. I am as impartial as they come when it comes to my @GBNEWS role.

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“In the Chamber though it’s a different matter.”

Mr Anderson interviewed Ms Braverman, who is the Tory MP for Fareham, on his Real World programme after she returned from a trip to the United States.

During her visit, she delivered a speech in which she controversially said “simply being gay, or a woman” should not by itself guarantee protection under international refugee laws.

The segment, which was aired on September 29, triggered more than 1,600 complaints.

Ofcom’s rules state: “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.”

However, an Ofcom statement issued today explained: “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.

“The programme included an appropriately wide range of significant views on immigration and border control, which were given due weight.”

Separately, Ofcom ruled GB News did breach impartiality rules during a programme presented by former Brexit Party MEP Martin Daubney when standing in for Laurence Fox.

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 the leader of the Reform Party, Richard 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”.

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

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“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 with future programming.”

A statement issued by GB News said: “We accept Ofcom’s finding and agree that our programme did not meet the due impartiality guidelines that our production team had planned.

“Our intent was for Mr Daubney to provide challenging questioning to Mr Tice. Mr Daubney talked of the need for balance and raised the views of people who might object to the strong measures Mr Tice was proposing.

“However, we accept this did not go far enough to meet Ofcom’s guidelines or our own policies and Editorial Charter.

“We apologise for this breach of the Code.”

Mr Daubney, who was also deputy leader of the Reclaim Party, was standing in for presenter Fox, who has since been dismissed following comments he made on air about a female journalist.

The actor-turned-politician made a series of personal remarks about political correspondent Ava Evans, including asking “Who would want to s*** that?”, on the Dan Wootton Tonight programme on September 26.

Mr Fox, who apologised following the incident, was sacked by GB News, while an internal investigation into Wootton continues.

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

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