Andrew Neil was set to be sacked as chairman and presenter of GB News if he had not fallen on his sword, a leaked document seen by The Mail on Sunday reveals.
An internal memo from channel chief executive Angelos Frangopoulos shows that its board was ready to ‘terminate his position’ – branding it ‘untenable’.
The veteran broadcaster took a leave of absence from his GB News show just two weeks after its gremlin-hit launch in June, sparking rumours of a fallout with other executives.
Last night, Mr Neil described his time with GB News as ‘the worst eight months of my life’
Mr Neil also risked mockery for making comments about the size of the private jet sent to take him and wife Susan from France to the London launch of GB News. Pictured, an Eclipse Jet 500
Now a draft ‘staff announcement’, prepared just days before Mr Neil, who has a home in the South of France, resigned last week, suggests he was on the verge of being sacked.
The document, which was never circulated, said: ‘This is to let you know that Andrew Neil has left GB News.
‘The board agreed unanimously today to terminate his position as chairman and programme host, with immediate effect.
‘No employer can continue to pay large sums to anyone who is not available to work, whether from Monaco or from here.’
Mr Neil also risked mockery for making comments about the size of the private jet sent to take him and wife Susan from France to the London launch of GB News.
Sources say they flew from Nice to Biggin Hill in a six-seater Eclipse 500.
In an email seen by this paper, the former Sunday Times editor wrote: ‘The eagle has landed… in the smallest private jet in the world. At one stage Susan didn’t think we were going to make it!’
Last night, Mr Neil described his time with GB News as ‘the worst eight months of my life’.
A friend of his told The Mail on Sunday that Mr Neil didn’t know if ‘they were ready to sack him.
But if they were, it would have been a dream to be fired as then he would have been free of all legal obligation. That would have been the end of the story.’
When Mr Neil last week announced his resignation as chairman and lead presenter, the channel paid tribute to ‘one of the finest journalists and interviewers in this country’.
But just a few days later, Mr Neil – who left without a pay-off – tore into the channel he helped to create.
Appearing on BBC1’s Question Time he said he quit over the direction GB News was taking, putting him in a ‘minority of one’ within its management.
Last night, friends of Mr Neil, 72, had not been complaining about the size of the jet, explaining it had been sent because Mr Neil was in the age group most vulnerable to Covid
The Mail on Sunday understands GB News is now considering legal action over Mr Neil’s remarks
Responding to fears GB News was turning into a British version of Right-wing US channel Fox News, he said: ‘I think you could make it something different without going anywhere near Fox.
Fox deals in untruths, it deals with conspiracy theories, and it deals in fake news.
‘And that’s not my kind of journalism, and I would never have set out to do that.’
The Mail on Sunday understands GB News is now considering legal action over Mr Neil’s remarks.
After his appearance, the channel’s Twitter account hit out at ‘a number of demonstrably untrue remarks’ and insisted ‘we stand for fair debate, tolerance, free speech and factual journalism’.
Last night, GB News sources further claimed that Mr Neil was ‘the only person who ever used the word ‘Right-leaning’ in terms of our positioning and the only person who said ‘anti-woke’.’
The leaked ‘staff announcement’ from Mr Frangopoulos said Mr Neil ‘never raised any concerns about our over-arching editorial direction at any board meeting.’
Last night, friends of Mr Neil, 72, dismissed that – insisting he had raised ‘all manner of concerns’ with GB News bosses.
They also insisted he had not been complaining about the size of the jet, explaining it had been sent because Mr Neil was in the age group most vulnerable to Covid.