THREE Tory MPs who ‘acted as newsreaders’ on GB News programmes have been found to have broken broadcasting rules on impartiality.

Media watchdog Ofcom’s probe involved five shows that were presented separately by minister without portfolio Esther McVey, backbencher Philip Davies and former House of Commons leader Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg.

The channel has been warned about potential sanctions if there are further breaches.

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GB News said that it is ‘deeply concerned’ by Ofcom’s ruling and will meet with the regulator to raise concerns about the ‘chilling development’.

Married couple Tatton MP Ms McVey and Mr Davies are no longer part of the GB News line-up, and last hosted programmes on the channel last year.

The breaches involved episodes broadcast in May and June 2023.

The shows include Sir Jacob talking on May 9 about a verdict involving former US president Donald Trump’s civil trial and Ms McVey and Mr Davies speaking on May 12 about train strikes, the UK economy, a court case involving the Duke of Sussex and a teenager who was being sentenced for terrorism offences.

On May 12, Saturday Morning With Esther And Philip interviewed Reform UK candidate Howard Cox about a “developing news story”, namely the anti-Ulez protest rally on and a Friday edition on June 23 – which covered the doctor’s strike – were also found to have breached the rules.

Ofcom said that because the politicians “acted as newsreaders, news interviewers or news reporters in sequences which clearly constituted news – including reporting breaking news events – without exceptional justification, news was, therefore, not presented with due impartiality.

“Politicians have an inherently partial role in society and news content presented by them is likely to be viewed by audiences in light of that perceived bias.

“In our view, the use of politicians to present the news risks undermining the integrity and credibility of regulated broadcast news.”

Ofcom has put GB News on notice that any repeated breaches of the same rules “may result in the imposition of a statutory sanction”.

This could mean the channel being fined up to the maximum financial penalty of £250,000 or five per cent of the broadcaster’s revenue, or having its licence shortened or revoked along with having to broadcast a correction or not to re-air the programme.

This is the first time the broadcaster broke these rules, according to the watchdog.

In a statement, GB News said: “We are deeply concerned by the decisions Ofcom has made.

“We will raise this directly with the regulator in the strongest possible terms.

“Ofcom is obliged by law to promote free speech and media plurality, and to ensure that alternative voices are heard.

“Its latest decisions, in some cases a year after the programme aired, contravene those duties.”

GB News said it “takes its obligations very seriously” and is committed to having politicians as presenters on the channel.

A GB News spokesman added: “Extraordinarily, Ofcom has determined that a programme which it acknowledges was impartial and lacking in any expression of opinion, still somehow breaches its impartiality rules just because an imaginary viewer might think otherwise.

“Ofcom has now arbitrarily changed the test so that it is not longer ‘Was it impartial? But ‘Could someone think it might not be?

“This is a chilling development for all broadcasters, for freedom of speech and for everyone in the UK.

“These decisions go against established precedent and raise serious questions about Ofcom’s oversight over its own regulations.

“It appears that Ofcom is trying the extend the regulations, rather than enforcing definitions which have been settled for many years.

“We are committed to continuing to feature serving politicians hosting programmes and will continue to do so, just as other Ofcom regulated services have in the past and still do.”

Politicians can host current affairs shows but are not allowed to host news programmes.