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GB News’ Top Boss Faced ‘Sexual Harassment’ Allegation – as Channel Paid to Shut Down ‘Institutional Racism’ Claims

As the hedge fund-backed news channel continues to platform star presenter Dan Wootton, Byline Times reveals the ‘racism, sexism and misogyny’ risking the future of the broadcaster

Angelos Frangopoulos, chief executive of GB News

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GB News paid a five-figure sum to an employee who brought an employment claim in which sexual harassment was alleged against its chief executive Angelos Frangopoulos – and shut down serious racism and bullying allegations raised by two other journalists with further pay-outs and gagging agreements, Byline Times can reveal.

And in two separate workplace incidents involving other GB News executives, a woman went on sick leave after allegedly being told she was “so ugly” she should “put a bag” on her head and that she should “open” her “legs” to win a promotion. Rather than taking legal action, she is said to have quietly left her job in disgust.

GB News’ position is that it doesn’t have a toxic workplace culture and that the company enjoys a good relationship with current and former employees.

The claim naming Mr Frangopoulos, a married father of five, made allegations that he propositioned and declared feelings for a female member of staff in a late-night phone call after work drinks in 2021.

Having been rebuffed, Mr Frangopoulos then allegedly undermined and marginalised the woman in her role before she left and got employment lawyers to negotiate a private settlement with the channel.

A source with knowledge of the case said: “She felt ostracised, bullied and became psychologically distressed, essentially for turning down someone’s advances.”

Byline Times understands that GB News has never received a formal internal complaint against Mr Frangopoulos.

As with the two other settled cases Byline Times is reporting on today in the ninth part of our special investigation into malpractice in broadcasting and news, GB News required the complainant to sign a non-disclosure agreement. (The channel’s position is that there are many reasons for the use of NDAs and they do not constitute an admission of underlying allegations).

The second pay-out, in 2022, centred on allegations of racial discrimination and breaches of the Equality Act, according to insiders with knowledge of the case.

The journalist who complained had been exposed to several thousand racist emails from some of the right-wing channel’s viewership, including around 800 featuring shocking racial content from a single individual, against whom GB News took no action.

“The woman involved got next to no support from the company,” one insider told Byline Times. “The content of some of these emails was really, really, shocking. One referred to George Floyd as ‘just another dead n****r’.

“Another one said ‘why can’t we laugh when we see notices on [the] windows of B&Bs saying no dogs, no blacks, no Irish?’. There were much worse things – unprintable things. And instead of telling the target of the emails to preserve them and handing it to the police, they were told to delete them and ignore them.

“There was supposed to be a human resources review internally in order to ensure compliance with the Equality Act, which seeks to protect against this sort of harassment. But nothing really changed. The auto-reply to viewer emails even thanked the sender for contributing. But it was never updated to also tell them that racist or prejudicial material would not be tolerated or would be reported to the police.

“Again, to avoid all this coming out in a formal courtroom process, the bosses made a high five-figure offer to make it go away – but only with a non-disclosure agreement clause. They fear the label of institutional racism.”

As part of its due diligence – and alongside interviews with more than 10 GB News whistle-blowers – Byline Times has checked the channel’s contributor auto-reply as part of its investigation and can confirm that, as of today, 10 August 2023, it includes no caution against racist, sexist or misogynistic content.

GB News’ position is that it is not liable for ‘third party’ harassment and that it investigated the email incidents properly. As a result, it says it implemented enhanced spam filters to protect employees and makes complaints to police when appropriate.

The channel views itself as an equal opportunities employer, with workplace rules and codes and has a grievance procedure in which claims of wrongdoing are investigated and acted upon.  

It says it addresses and investigates formal complaints professionally, even where these are against senior producers and presenters, and takes appropriate steps.

‘A Strong Sense of Weak Management’

A third pay-out was made to a journalist of colour who complained of racial discrimination from a GB News executive.

A source with knowledge of the case described how the reporter was accused of “overreacting” to what they felt was prejudicial treatment during a meeting in which they were singled out for criticism while white colleagues were not.

The source, referring to a period in 2022, also painted a picture of a racially divided newsroom in which staff of colour tended to work separately from white colleagues.

The journalist was eventually sacked following an anonymous complaint from a viewer – which had in fact wrongly identified him and was actually relating to a completely different GB News staffer – in which highly racist phrases were used.

Among the language was the description of the journalist as an “undercover street n****r”. However, GB News bosses used the complaint as the basis to terminate the journalist’s contract, accusing him of “gross misconduct” for breaching protocols by using LinkedIn to find guests for GB News – which bosses allegedly accepted as standard practice among the man’s colleagues.

Without GB News’ backing, the journalist involved police after the racial attacks and wrote to a number of senior MPs, as well as getting representation from the National Union of Journalists.

His NUJ representative, Martin Shipton, told Byline Times: “It was an absolutely disgraceful case. I have never seen or heard anything like it. Any self-respecting newsroom would have dismissed such an email out of hand, and instead it was used to get rid of this employee, which is absolutely shocking.”

In two other incidents of alleged sexual harassment at GB News, which did not lead to threats of legal action, this newspaper has learned that a female journalist was told by two senior male colleagues to “put a bag” on her head as she was too “ugly” – while another encouraged her to “open your legs” in order to advance her career.

A source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told this newspaper: “If you want to look at it through the prism of sexism, then ask yourself why there are only a very few solo female presenters on GB News. They’re all there to prop up men, basically. 

“It is a very hostile environment where, if you’re going to get on as a female presenter, you have to put up with being a sidekick, with just a very few exceptions.”

The new allegations about the culture at GB News follow a series of articles by this newspaper detailing the private and professional conduct of the channel’s star presenter Dan Wootton, who continues to enjoy a platform on his 9pm week-nightly show.

Wootton’s regular column for Mail Online has been suspended pending the outcome of an investigation; while his former employer The Sun has also launched an internal inquiry into his behaviour there between 2013 and 2021, and has been asked to share its findings with Parliament.

Dan Wootton denies all allegations of criminality.

Insiders at GB News speak of a channel that began in June 2021 with aspirations to professionalism and a remit to fill a populist gap in the broadcast news market which has now lost its way.

“There is a strong sense of weak management at GB News,” one source said. “When serious workplace issues are raised, time and again they are not being dealt with robustly. Experienced journalists are leaving en masse. The channel is having to rely more and more on inexperienced editorial staff who don’t have compass to be directing a national broadcaster.

“When GB News launched there was great hope it could become a disruptor to the broadcasting status quo – a real free-speech channel. But it is losing its way.”

GB News declined to comment on the record.

Dan Evans and Tom Latchem are former colleagues of Dan Wootton’s from the News of the World

Do you have any information for our special investigation? Email Byline Times confidentially:

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