Guto Harri brands GB News 'an absurd parody' after his suspension

GB News presenter Guto Harri slams channel for ‘becoming absurd parody of what it proclaimed to be’ after he was suspended for taking the knee despite his employer’s free speech and anti-cancel culture branding

  • Presenter Guti Harri took the knee during his GB News show and was suspended 
  • Viewers of the new TV station threatened a boycott following the ‘woke gesture’
  • Former UKIP leader Nigel Farage, 57, has been unveiled as a new presenter  

A former aide to Boris Johnson who was suspended by GB News after he ‘took the knee’ during a life broadcast believes the new station is struggling. 

Guto Harri, who worked in City Hall alongside Boris Johnson, was forced out after making the gesture in the aftermath of England’s defeat to Italy. 

Viewers claimed they were going to boycott the station following the gesture. 

Guto Harri, pictured, was suspended by GB News after he took a knee live on air causing outrage among the station’s viewers 

Nigel Farage is set to host his new prime time GB News show from Monday, July 19

Writing in the Sunday Times, Harri warned producers in advance that he was considering making the gesture on Tuesday’s broadcast. He was told if he was to do so he should look towards a specific camera.  

Harri wrote: ‘What followed was a tsunami of disappointment, resentment and hate. Old friends were amused to see me described as woke and Marxist. By Thursday night, the boss called and I’d been taken off air for the summer.’

He said he was told he had ‘offended the lynch mob’ and suggested it was incorrect to suggest he was responsible for a decline in viewer numbers, which he said ‘dropped pretty swiftly after launch and kept slipping. 

In the aftermath of what happened to him, Harri said: ‘The channel is rapidly becoming an absurd parody of what it proclaimed to be. Rather than defending free speech and confronting cancel culture, it has set out to replicate it on the far right.’ 

New presenter Nigel Farage has promised he will ‘not be taking the knee’ as he is set to head up a new prime time programme on GB News.

The ex-UKIP leader, 57, will host ‘Farage’ at 7pm on the national news channel from Monday, July 19.

Mr Farage called on the public to support his new venture as he revealed details of the one-hour show on social media.

The move comes after presenter Guto Harri was suspended for taking the knee live on television in a move that angered many viewers.   

Mr Harri took the knee on Tuesday in solidarity with black England football stars after they suffered racist abuse in the aftermath of the team’s defeat on penalties in the Euro 2020 final.

But it offended some viewers amid criticism that anyone who takes a knee – including police officers, sports stars and TV presenters – risks being seen to endorse some of the Left-wing ideas promoted by the Black Lives Matter organisation, as well as opposing racism.

The ex-UKIP leader, 57, will host ‘Farage’ at 7pm on the national news channel from Monday, July 19

Nigel Farage had promised a ‘big career change’ earlier today as speculation mounted that he was set to join GB News on a permanent basis. 

The former UKIP leader told his 1.6 million Twitter followers to ‘watch this space’, with an announcement coming this afternoon. 

Announcing his new role on GB News, he said: ‘Since politics I have done a fair bit of broadcasting. Broadcasting matters, it really does.

‘It gets people to look at issues, think about issues in different ways and be very influential. 

Mr Farage referenced his previous three year tenure on LBC, and his YouTube channel that has more than 270,000 subscribers.

He promised to take up broadcasting on ‘a regular basis’, as he revealed the finer details of his new show Farage. 

Earlier today, a source at GB News told MailOnline: ‘Farage already has a weekend show on GB News, but yes you’re right in thinking he is getting a more regular slot.’

They suggested that the 57-year-old’s new role will see him make a daily appearance on the channel. 

Rumours of the addition were already swirling on social media. 

One Twitter user wrote: ‘GB News here he comes’, while another said: ‘I’m thinking a roving reporter out and about on GB News would be great.’ 

‘The new boss of GB News,’ predicted another. 

Mr Harri’s gesture last week sparked a viewer boycott with several GB News shows attracting zero viewers in the wake of the segment. 

He was suspended by the channel and replaced on air after GB News bosses sent out a tweet condemning him for taking the knee. 

Farage teased his expected GB News announcement on Twitter on Saturday morning 

GB News chairman Andrew Neil issued a rallying cry Friday night amid a public row over one of its presenters taking the knee live on air

GB News said on Twitter: ‘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.’ 

Defending his actions, Cardiff-born Mr Harri said: ‘GB News is – above all – about free speech; having the debates others won’t.  

Amid a Twitter backlash from social media users baffled by Mr Harri’s gesture on the ‘anti-woke’ channel, GB News publicly rebuked its presenter. It said on its official Twitter account: ‘GB News stands four square against racism in all its forms. We do not have a company line on taking the knee’

‘English footballers have made it clear that when they take the knee they are making a clear statement about rejecting racism (not endorsing the narrow divisive aims of BLM). I support them.’    

John McAndrew, who previously insisted the channel would be a ‘place for everyone’, is reported to have resigned from GB News after clashing with bosses on its direction. 

Meanwhile, the channel’s figurehead Andrew Neil took to Twitter on Friday night to defend the young news service.   

The veteran broadcaster broke his silence on the raging row with a candid statement, in which he admitted ‘start ups are fraught and fractious’.

But Mr Neil, who is currently taking a break from hosting the channel, said the future remained bright for GB News – despite viewing figures falling-off since its launch last month.

In a rallying cry posted on Twitter, the broadcaster said: ‘Start ups are fraught and fractious GB News is no exception. 

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

Guto Harri: Ex-BBC correspondent and Remainer suspended for taking the knee on GB News

Presenter Guto Harri made headlines this week after taking the knee on GB News – to the fury of many of the channel’s viewers. 

It is the latest political statement from Harri, who in 2016 penned an article vehemently protesting against Brexit and arguing that a Remain vote was vital for Wales. He wrote that the ‘dream of Brexit is a wild fantasy’ ahead of the referendum.  

Harri also previously wrote in a Cardiff University journalism blog where he revealed that he wanted to escape the ‘straitjacket of impartiality’ which was ‘entirely appropriate for broadcasters but there’s a time when some of us want to take sides’. 

Born in Cardiff, Harri studied Policy, Politics and Economics at Oxford, before studying a masters in Broadcast Journalism at Cardiff University. 

His education prompted an 18-year career at the BBC, where he started in Welsh-language radio. 

He then fronted Welsh election programmes for the broadcaster before becoming a regular on several mainstream politics shows. 

Harri covered the collapse of Communism in Romania, Czechoslovakia and East Germany before reporting on the Gulf War from Saudi Arabia, Jordan and northern Iraq. In November 2002, he became the BBC’s Chief Political Correspondent.

After leaving the BBC in 2007, he turned down a job with David Cameron, instead joining a PR agency and serving as advisor to Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai for four weeks. 

In May 2008, he was appointed Communications Director for Boris Johnson during his time as Mayor of London. 

He joined Rupert Murdoch’s News UK in May 2012 as Director of Communications and Corporate Affairs and was seen as being responsible for helping to reband the organisation in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal. 

Harri has also held roles with Virgin Media owner Liberty Global, London PR firm Hanover Communications, for GQ Magazine and for Hydro Industries Limited.

Since June 2018 he has presented the S4C current affairs television programme, Y Byd yn ei Le. 

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