Andrew Neil quit GB News last week and now it looks like he is not going quietly.
In a wide-ranging interview with The Daily Mail, the former chairman of the channel and veteran broadcaster made a number of startling claims about the channel and explained just what he saw behind the scenes that made him do a runner.
Here is everything he alleges about the channel:
That GB News experienced a plethora of technical issues with guests being labelled incorrectly and producers failing to notice people pranking them is no secret to those who tuned in to the channel in its early days. And Neil said these issues were incredibly stressful:
“It just went from bad to worse. There was one day we spent the whole day preparing the programme and fixing up a number of interviews down the line [meaning remotely, rather than in the studio] because that was the business model.
‘At one minute to eight [his flagship show was broadcast live at 8pm] I sat down, earpiece in, microphone on, only to be told by the director we had no external communications, so I had no guests.
“It just got worse and worse. At one stage, we were waiting to go on air and the whole system went down. It had to be rebooted and we only managed it with 15 seconds to spare.
“That stress was just huge. It meant you couldn’t think about the journalism. You were just constantly wondering: “Will we make it through the hour?
“I had a constant knot in my stomach. When I did wake up I’d feel fine, then remember all the problems I had with GB News and this knot would come and wouldn’t leave me for the whole day.”
It comes after the journalist quit the channel earlier this month just months after it launched.
In a statement at the time, Neil said: “I am sorry to go but I have concluded it’s time to reduce my commitments on a number of fronts. Over the summer I’ve had time to reflect on my extensive portfolio of interests and decided it was time to cut back.”
But he last week appeared on Question Time and said he had quit the channel because of a difference in opinion with “other senior managers and the board of GB News.”
Now it seems there is more that lies beneath the surface.
Continuing to talk about the channel’s technical difficulties, Neil said: “The studio had four areas. One was the digital wall, another was the breakfast table area – which I thought looked rather good – the other was the sofa, which looked like a Habitat sofa we’d picked up off a skip in Notting Hill, and the fourth, which was where I did my show from, was so black I had to take my jacket off and wear a white shirt.
“It actually looked like I was Kim Jong Un in a bunker about to launch a nuclear attack on San Francisco. When it came to the launch, the digital wall wasn’t ready and they discovered they couldn’t light or get the sound and audio right for the kitchen table… so we were then reduced to the Habitat sofa found on a skip and the North Korean nuclear bunker.
‘We were also broadcasting from the most diverse, multi-ethnic city in the world and we couldn’t light people of colour. In the early days you could barely see them for our backdrop.”
“Worse than being on the IRA hit list”
Neil said his involvement with the channel caused him to lose sleep and that he came close to having a breakdown. Evidently, it was worse than dealing terrorists.
“I’ve been on the IRA hit list twice,” He stated. “I’ve had special protection – anti-terrorist forces outside my house. I’ve been on the jihadists’ hit list. This feels worse.”
Secret cameras to expose left-wing teachers
Neil claims people in GB News wanted to “put secret cameras in classrooms to show how Left-wing the teachers were.”
“I said: ‘That’s a really good idea but I think you should take charge of that yourself, and I promise you that after you get in hot water for breaking about five different laws – including filming minors – come back and talk to me.’”
Unsurprisingly, following the interview, people took to Twitter to revel in the gossip and some were more sympathetic than others:
Reacting to the interview, a spokesperson from GB News told the publication they rejected Neil’s claims.
“At no point did Andrew raise concerns of the editorial direction of GB News moving to the right. As with all companies, decision-making rests with the board, and GB News is no different. As a member of the board, Andrew had the same rights and abilities to raise concerns, and he was privy to all decisions.
“The launch date of GB News was set to accommodate Andrew’s own travel plans. Indeed, contrary to management’s wishes, it was Andrew who insisted the launch date be announced, failing which he refused to travel to London for it. At no time did Andrew ask to be executive chairman and at no point was this offered to him. He was always a non-executive chairman.”
Indy100 has also contacted GB News for comment.