The former chairman of GB News has claimed his stint at the company was “worse” than being on an IRA hit list.
ndrew Neil resigned as chairman and lead presenter from the channel earlier this month having presented just eight shows and walking away from a £4 million contract.
The 72-year-old veteran broadcaster cited the numerous technical glitches that have dogged the channel’s launch since June, alongside disagreements over the direction of the channel with senior executive figures.
In an interview with the Daily Mail, the former editor of The Sunday Times and founding chairman of Sky TV said GB News was the “worst eight months of his career”.
“I am angry. I’m also quite unforgiving of this chief executive and the board. They are the ones who put me through this – the disrespect,” he said.
‘Why pay me all that money? Why make me chairman? Why make me lead presenter and then just not listen?
“This is a disaster and it’s my reputation that’s on the line. That’s what really did me in the end – and it’s my own stupidity for getting into it – the fact that everybody saw my face on the tin. It was Andrew Neil’s channel. That’s what everyone talked about.
“So I’m angry that what should have been my last big media gig – which, if we’d made it work, could have been great – turned out to be the worst eight months of my career, the worst by far, from early January to last weekend when I finally got free of everything.
“Don’t forget, I’ve been on the IRA hit list twice. I’ve had special protection – anti-terrorist forces outside my house. I’ve been on the jihadists’ hit list. This feels worse.”
Mr Neil was not the only departure from GB News, with Northern Ireland regional reporter Conchur Dowds leaving the channel in July after three months to return to UTV.
Former First Minister Arlene Foster is one of those who joined the channel back in July as a regular contributor saying she wanted to “bring Northern Ireland into the mainstream of UK politics”.
Mrs Foster recently declared that she received up to £500 for her debut performance on the channel.
The MLA – who will step down from her Fermanagh and South Tyrone constituency at the end of the month – recorded the earnings from the channel on her Stormont register of interests.
She recorded in the Assembly register: “13 August 2021 – I received payment up to £500 from GB News Limited for my role as a commentator on the Political Correction programme, which was broadcast on 25 July 2021.
“Payment related to the two-hour programme, which began on 25 July 2021 (interest commenced on 25 July 2021).”
Fermanagh born Darren McCaffrey also remains on GB News as a presenter and the channel’s political editor
McCaffrey, who hails from Newtownbutler, has previously worked for Sky News and EuroNews before he made the jump to GB News.
In a response to Mr Neil’s interview, a spokesperson from GB News told the Daily Mail: “The board allowed Andrew time off over the summer to recharge his batteries.
“He subsequently asked to leave and the board agreed to this request. The terms of his departure were properly negotiated and documented, with Andrew taking legal advice throughout.
“The fact that he has chosen to ignore these terms and make his departure unnecessarily contentious and public is a decision he will have to live with.”