Rishi Sunak’s GB News interview under investigation for breaching impartiality rules

The broadcasting regulator Ofcom has launched an official investigation into a recent appearance by Rishi Sunak on the channel GB News.

The prime minister appeared on The People’s Forum on the channel on February 12, answering questions from a live audience, with many complaining that no alternative point of view was offered during the broadcast.

In a statement, Ofcom said: “We have received around 500 complaints about the programme which aired on GB News.

“We are investigating under Rules 5.11 and 5.12 of the Broadcasting Code which provide additional due impartiality requirements for programmes dealing with matters of major political controversy and major matters relating to current public policy.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in October 2023
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in October 2023. CREDIT: Joe Giddens – WPA Pool/Getty Images

“Specifically, Rules 5.11 and 5.12 require that an appropriately wide range of significant views must be included and given due weight in such programmes, or in clearly linked and timely programmes.”

The presenter Stephen Dixon said during the show that the questions were being posed by undecided voters, and that they had not been seen in advance, either by GB News or by Sunak.

An official spokesperson for Sunak said that the prime minister has no regrets about his appearance on the show and that “this is a matter for Ofcom”.

Ofcom, which sets the rules by which broadcasters must abide, does not insist that equal time is given to opposing political views, but does say that audiences must be exposed to alternative ways of thinking.

GB News has been found to have fallen foul of Ofcom rules in the past, including when Chancellor Jeremy Hunt was interviewed by fellow Conservative MPs Esther McVey and Philip Davies about his Autumn Statement.

The channel’s policy of allowing active political figures to host shows, including Jacob Rees-Mogg and Lee Anderson, is also contentious. It was also announced late last year that former prime minister Boris Johnson would be joining the channel as a presenter.

Johnson will play “a key role in the channel’s coverage of both the U.K. general election and the U.S. elections next year,” the network said in a statement.

He will also create and host a new series about “the power of Britain around the world” and will also occasionally host live specials in front of audiences around the UK.

Back in October, Laurence Fox was sacked by GB News after the channel conducted an internal investigation. The actor and political commentator made a series of derogatory remarks about journalist Ava Evans on Dan Wootoon Tonight on September 28, including saying, “Show me a single self-respecting man that would like to climb into bed with that woman ever.”

Fox later apologised to Evans in a video on social media, where he explained that he was still “angry” over comments she had made during a Politics Live debate on male suicide, but acknowledged his remarks were “demeaning”.

“If I was going to be sensible and I could replay it, I would say: ‘Any self-respecting man in 2023 would probably be well advised to avoid a woman who possessed that worldview because she would probably cause him nothing but harm,” Fox said.

Wootton himself, who was seen laughing at Fox’s comments, also apologised, and was later suspended by GB News, pending an investigation. The incident also led to Wootton’s column at MailOnline being cancelled.


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