GB News presenter Guto Harri has reportedly been suspended after taking the knee in solidarity with the England team live on air.
On Tuesday, Harri, a contributing presenter for the month-old channel, said that he now ‘got’ why the team took the knee in opposition to racism ahead of their Euro 2020 matches, after Marcus Rashford, Bukayo Saka and Jadon Sancho were subjected to racist abuse after missing penalties in the final against Italy.
He said: ‘I’ve never understood why people find it offensive. I tended to be one of those people who thought “do we really need to do this at every football match?”
‘But having seen just how close to the surface how hideously ugly racism among some English fans is, I totally get it why this squad throughout wanted to make a stand, day in, day out, every time they took to the pitch.
‘With the benefit of hindsight, I might have underestimated how close to the surface the racism is.’
The 55-year-old then took the knee himself.
Three days later, Harri has been ‘indefinitely taken off air’, according to The Guardian, amid backlash against the gesture from viewers.
GB News was accused of backtracking on its ‘anti-woke’ stance and losing credibility by disgruntled viewers, some of whom pledged to boycott the channel over the gesture.
Guto Harri defended his actions (Picture: GB News)
Welsh presenter Harri defended his gesture, tweeting: ‘GB News is – above all – about free speech; having the debates others won’t. 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.’
However, GB News later issued a statement saying that while it ‘stands against racism in all its forms’, Harri’s gesture constituted a breach of their standards.
A Twitter thread from the channel read: ‘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.’
It is unclear which part of GB News’s editorial charter Harri taking the knee breached.
The channel says it stands for ‘the independence of our journalism, putting facts first, respect for opinions and those expressing them, the right of every individual to form and share their views, holding our leaders, our society and ourselves accountable, bringing clarity to complex and contentious issues, celebrating the potential and achievements of the individual and communities in shaping their and our nation’s future, and being one team, innovating side by side to bring the best out in each other,.’
The Guardian reports that friends of Harri said: ‘GB News is becoming an absurd parody of what it proclaimed to be – not defending free speech and combatting cancel culture but replicating it on the far right. Nasty.’
Harri worked for the BBC for 18 years before becoming Boris Johnson’s spokesperson during his first term as Mayor of London, and later worked for News UK.
The report also claims that senior producer Gill Penlington, who previously worked at CNN and Sky News, has left her job just weeks after the channel’s launch.
Two high-profile hosts are missing from the schedule a month in, with Andrew Neil taking annual leave and Alastair Stewart taking time off due to a broken hip.
Despite a strong start in the ratings, beating its rivals Sky News and BBC News in its first days, GB News has been rapidly losing viewers, with two shows registering zero viewers on Wednesday.
A show hosted by Liam Halligan and Gloria De Piero between 1pm and 3.30pm ‘attracted no measurable audience’, while Simon McCoy and Alex Phillips’ show at 5pm also measured zero viewers.
metro.co.uk has contacted GB News for comment.Credit: Original article published here.