MP Jacob Rees-Mogg

Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg criticises regarding Ofcom ruling on politicians as newsreaders

  • Additional reporting by Charlotte McLaughlin (PA Media)

MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, leader of the House of Commons, has criticised Ofcom’s ruling regarding his appearances on GB News.

Ofcom, the broadcasting regulatory body in the UK, found that Rees-Mogg’s role as a newsreader on GB News while also serving as a politician violated impartiality rules.

The channel was put on notice yesterday (18 March), with the media watchdog saying that any repeated breaches of the same rules “may result in the imposition of a statutory sanction”.

This may result in a financial penalty.

Media plurality

Rees-Mogg has defended his actions, arguing that he was not acting in a political capacity during his appearances on the network, telling the Times Radio: “It is a barmy decision from Ofcom.

“I was talking about a stabbing – how can there be due impartiality? We know stabbing is bad. Would they get the stabber on there to argue why it wasn’t bad? It is an eccentric decision.”

However, Ofcom deemed that his status as a serving politician could potentially compromise the impartiality of the broadcasts.

Asked for her views on the GB News ruling, Lucy Frazer, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport said: “I think GB News does a fantastic job, I’m in favour of media plurality.

“I think you have a lot of viewers who are interested in the output that you have, as indeed other channels have as well.”

Breach of Ofcom code

On whether she agrees with the ruling, Ms Frazer said: “I think there were two decisions that Ofcom came to in relation to GB News. One was in relation to impartiality, and that’s a question for them – they are the regulator.

“And the other was whether there was a breach of the broadcasting code, because the broadcasting code says that a sitting MP cannot present news as in live news that is happening, but they can present current affairs programmes.”

This situation raises important questions about the balance between politicians media engagements and their responsibilities as public officials.