GB News 'finding its feet' and has 'great future', insists Andrew Neil as channel 'hit by issues'

Andrew Neil has been absent from the channel after announcing a break two weeks into GB News’ launch. Credit: PA

GB News is “finding its feet” and has a “great future” ahead of it, its chair has said after a series of issues are thought to have hit the channel.

Reports suggest the channel’s director of news and programmes, John McAndrew, has stepped down, senior producer Gill Penlington has quit, and presenter Guto Harri has been removed from air after taking the knee during a broadcast.

From left to right: John McAndrew, Alastair Stewart and Guto Harri. Credit: PA

Chair Andrew Neil spoke out during a period of absence from the channel after announcing a break two weeks into GB News’ launch.

On Friday, the journalist and broadcaster tweeted: “Start ups are fraught and fractious. @GBNEWS is no exception.

“But the news channel is finding its feet and has a great future. Watch this space.”

Presenter Harri has been taken off air after the channel said he breached its “standards” by taking the knee on air in support of England’s footballers, according to the Guardian.

On Thursday, GB News apologised after Harri made the gesture while discussing the racial abuse suffered by members of the national side following their loss to Italy in the Euro 2020 final.

A statement from GB News on Twitter said: “GB News stands four square against racism in all its forms. We do not have a company line on taking the knee.

“Some of our guests have been in favour, some against. All are anti-racist. We have editorial standards that all GB News journalists uphold.

“On Tuesday a contributing presenter took the knee live on air and this was an unacceptable breach of our standards.

“We let both sides of the argument down by oversimplifying a very complex issue.”

The Guardian also reported Ms Penlington, a respected and experienced producer at rolling news channels such as CNN and Sky News who has worked in the past with Mr Neil, has also quit.

The newspaper reported she was brought in as a senior figure before launch, only to leave earlier this week, adding that the departure of other key off-air figures could be announced imminently, according to sources at the channel.

On Friday, presenter Alastair Stewart also announced he is taking a break from his GB News show after breaking his hip.

The former ITV presenter, 69, anchors a programme called Alastair Stewart And Friends on the new channel, featuring conversation and analysis of current affairs.

Stewart said on Twitter he would be stepping back from the show after being knocked over by a horse.

He wrote: “I won’t be hosting #AlastairStewartAndFriends on @GBNEWS this weekend due to……. a broken hip! I fear it’ll be a while but I’ll be back!!!

“Thanks for kindness & support to all at @GBNEWS, the brilliant Anita @AnitaLandLtd & my extraordinary family…”

In a second post he disclosed how he was hurt, writing: “I was leading in one of the horses & she bolted, knocking me over – rather forcefully!”

Listen to Unscripted, the arts and entertainment podcast from ITV News