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GB News presenter convicted by channel bosses of an ‘unacceptable violation of standards’ after kneeling live on TV to protest racist abuse targeting black England football stars after the loss of the Three Lions against Italy.
Guto Harri and his GB News co-host Mercy Muroki opened up about the heinous abuse on Tuesday’s show, in which Mr Harri admitted he “understands” why footballers kneel before every game.
Critics have previously accused England players of promoting a left-wing anti-capitalist political agenda inspired by last year’s Black Lives Matter protests, in addition to projecting an anti-racist message.
Mr. Harri then knelt on the air himself, telling viewers, “I’ll tell you where I am. I never understood why people would find this offensive. I can see and I tended to be one of those people who thought we really have to do this every football game, can’t we just enjoy whatever sport we play in too?
“But having seen over the last few days how frightfully ugly racism is among some English fans, I fully understand why this team thinks all the way through the thought that we have to say, day after day out, that racism isn’t is not activated. And in fact, looking back I may have underestimated how close racism is to the surface, I really understand that.
His action sparked a viewer boycott, with official TV audience figures showing that GB News did not attract any viewers on some of its shows after Tuesday, according to the Barb rating agency. Amid the backlash, “anti-awakened” GB News publicly berated its Twitter anchor, saying, “GB News opposes racism in all its forms. We don’t have a corporate line on the knee socket.
“Some of our guests were for, others against. They are all anti-racists. We have editorial standards that all GB News journalists adhere to. On Tuesday a presenter knelt down live on the air and it was an unacceptable violation of our standards.
“We have dropped both sides of the argument by oversimplifying a very complex problem. ”
Mr Harri defended his actions last night, writing on Twitter: “GB News is – above all – about free speech; have the debates that others will not have. England footballers have made it clear that when they kneel down they make a clear statement about rejecting racism (not endorsing the narrow divisional goals of the BLM). I support them.
GB News chairman Andrew Neil has so far remained silent on the controversy after telling viewers earlier that he was taking time off – just two weeks after the channel launched after what he called a ” difficult start ”. The former Sunday Times editor is said to have gone on vacation to his primary residence in the south of France but there is no public return date for his flagship show.
GB News presenter condemned by bosses for an ‘unacceptable violation of standards’ after kneeling live on television to protest racist abuse targeting black England football stars after the Three Lions defeat in Italy against Italy
Guto Harri and his GB News co-host Mercy Muroki opened up about the heinous abuse on Tuesday’s show, in which Mr Harri admitted he “understands” why footballers kneel – an anti-racist move inspired by last year’s Black Lives Matter protests – before every game
Amid a backlash on Twitter from social media users baffled by Mr. Harri’s action on the “anti-clock” channel, GB News publicly berated its presenter. He said on his official Twitter account: “GB News stands up against racism in all its forms. We have no course of action to take the knee ‘
Cardiff-born Mr Harri, 55, is a former BBC political correspondent and the spin doctor of Prime Minister Boris Johnson while mayor of London. At the BBC, Mr. Harri’s journalistic career spanned Westminster, New York and Rome, covering politics and business.
Scottish presenter Neil Oliver supported his colleague’s decision to kneel, tweeting: ‘My teammate @GBNEWS @Guto_Harri is right to say and do as he sees fit. I do the same thing. This is the philosophy of the chain. Freedom of speech. We don’t all agree with each other – that’s the point, or where is the debate? ‘
Twitter users also criticized GB News, with comedian Danny Wallace sarcastically writing: “The anti-racist gestures made in solidarity with an abused England national football team are an unacceptable violation of GB News standards, I take it. “
A second social media user tweeted: “People will be surprised to know you have standards”, while a third person wrote: “someone taking a stand against racism is an” unacceptable violation of your standards “? It sounds like a nice place to work. ‘
A fourth asked: “What about freedom of expression? I thought you were there for this?
It is not clear if Harri flouted the GB News editorial charter, which says the channel defends the “right of every individual to form and share their opinions” and brings “clarity on complex and contentious issues” .
The charter states: “We will find out what is going on, present the facts in a clear and honest manner and ensure that our coverage is well documented, that the facts are verified and that all data used is solid and accurate.
“If we’re wrong, we’ll say it – and explain what happened. We will present our programs in a way that respects individuals and leads to a more informed community and nation. We value freedom of expression, but not by causing unjustifiable offense or exposing our audience to harm, especially in relation to our vulnerable viewers.
“We do not shy away from controversial issues. We will take a candid and honest look at the world, but we are sensitive to complex matters and protect privacy unless the overriding public interest outweighs that expectation.
GB News has been contacted for comment.
It follows reports that social media companies have released personal details of those accused of sharing racist messages online after the Euro 2020 final penalty shootout in England.
Harri defended her actions last night, writing on Twitter: “GB News is – above all – about free speech”
Harry Kane and Declan Rice kneel down during Three Lions’ game against Austria last month
Twitter and Facebook have “worked very closely” with police investigators, who say they are digging into dozens of racist tweets from people after five people were arrested in the wake of Sunday’s final.
The tech giants will provide the names, emails and IP addresses of users who allegedly sent discriminatory messages at the request of authorities, reports the Times.
Yesterday, the British Football Police Unit provided an update on its investigation following abusive messages targeting Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka following the Three Lions’ loss on penalties to Italy.
Three of the suspects have already been publicly identified: plasterer Brad Pretty, 49, of Folkestone, Kent; real estate agent Andrew Bone, 37, of Sale, Cheshire; and children’s football coach Nick Scott, 50, of Powick, Worcestershire.
A fourth suspect, a 37-year-old man from Ashton-upon-Mersey in Greater Manchester, was subsequently arrested yesterday, officials said, before a fifth, a 42-year-old man from Runcorn was subsequently arrested by police in Cheshire.
Twitter said it deleted more than 1,000 messages within 24 hours during and after the game and suspended a number of accounts for violating its rules. Facebook said it also quickly deleted abusive comments on its platform and Instagram.
Data from analytics firm Crisp, which works with top football clubs, revealed England players faced 12,500 hate messages on social media during Euro 2020, including emojis banana and monkey.
The abuse of 10,000 accounts targeted gamers directly, via Twitter and Instagram, and includes comments on race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, as well as extreme personal abuse and threats of harm, including towards family members.
The number of abusive accounts equals 3% of all users posting to player accounts during the tournament.
Adam Mosseri, chief executive of Instagram, told The Times that errors in the company’s detection software allowed abusive posts to slip through, but these have now been fixed.
He explained, “It is absolutely not acceptable to send racist emojis, or any type of hate speech, to Instagram.”
A UKFPU statement read: “After England’s loss to Italy on Sunday, a torrent of racist comments targeting some of the team’s black players appeared on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
“A hate crime investigation is underway by the UKFPU, with a dedicated team of investigators investigating a large number of reports from across the country. So far, dozens of data requests have been submitted to social media companies and four people have been arrested by local police forces.