Andrew Neil says ‘it would have killed me’ to stay at GB News
Andrew Neil has claimed he came close to a breakdown while chair of GB News.
The long-time journalist and broadcaster, aged 72, announced his resignation from the role last week after months of speculation.
Neil who left the channel after presenting eight programmes between June and August, cited frustration over technical issues, the departure of senior staff and debate over the channel’s political direction.
Regarding the departure from his £4 million contract with the fledgling channel, the former BBC presenter told the Daily Mail: “It was a big decision but I frankly couldn’t care if it was £40m. This would have killed me if I’d carried on.”
Neil reported that the “stress was just huge” and that by the end of the first week of broadcast, he felt like leaving.
While both Neil and the channel claimed he was on holiday over the summer, it has been reported that they in fact spent months in legal disputes over the contract.
GB News sources claim the process was the subject of lengthy legal wrangling after a souring of Neil’s relationship with the station’s chief executive, Angelos Frangopoulos.
In response to Neil’s comments, a GB News spokesperson said: “At no point did Andrew raise concerns of the editorial direction of GB News moving to the right. As with all companies, decision-making rests with the board, and GB News is no different. As a member of the board, Andrew had the same rights and abilities to raise concerns, and he was privy to all decisions.
“The launch date of GB News was set to accommodate Andrew’s own travel plans. Indeed, contrary to management’s wishes, it was Andrew who insisted the launch date be announced, failing which he refused to travel to London for it.”
They added: “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.”
Neil has also attracted criticism for his comments. Timothy Montgomerie, co-founder of the Centre for Social Justice said via Twitter:
Please stop this now Andrew. It is beginning to look like you are trying to destroy GBNews. The channel and its largely young team deserve the chance to succeed. https://t.co/ak914w3Mpk
— Tim Montgomerie 🇬🇧 (@montie) September 25, 2021