Andrew Neil has said media regulator Ofcom needs to “grow a backbone and quick” over the issue of politicians hosting TV programmes.

The Spectator chairman, who was founding chairman of GB News and a presenter on the channel before his resignation shortly after the launch, told peers he would never have allowed politicians to present political programmes or interview each other.

Giving evidence to the Lords Communications and Digital Committee’s inquiry into the future of news, he reflected on his eight-night stint on air with the channel, saying it “felt like eight years at the time”.

Neil quit the channel after differences over the direction in which it was heading, saying he felt he was in a “minority of one” about its future.

Questioned about the issue of due impartiality, Neil told peers: “I’m surprised at how tolerant Ofcom has been of GB News.

“It may be because the rest of the broadcast universe is on the centre, centre-left so it gave GB news a bit more leeway to settle down.

“I am surprised that any regulator would allow politicians sitting in the Houses of Parliament to present political TV programmes.

The Herald: Andrew Neil and his GB News team, with Neil Oliver third from left

“If I had stayed as chairman it would not have happened because I would not have had any politician present a TV show in the first place, and I would certainly never have allowed politicians to interview politicians from the same party.

“I just find that incredible and I think on these areas Ofcom needs to find a backbone and quick.”

Last month, episodes of GB News programmes presented by Conservative MPs were found to have broken broadcasting rules by them acting as newsreaders.

Ofcom’s probe involved shows that were presented by former House of Commons leader Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg, as well as minister without portfolio Esther McVey and backbencher Philip Davies, and the channel was warned about potential sanctions if there are further breaches.

Married couple Ms McVey and Mr Davies are no longer part of the GB News line-up.

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Asked how GB News would have been different if his views had been listened to, Neil said: “It would have been different in two ways: the production values would have been very different, it wouldn’t have looked like it was coming from a nuclear bunker of the president of North Korea.

“It would have been modern, high-quality production values.

“It would have merely tried to change the focus of a hinterland from which you covered stories; it was not an attempt to bring a Fox News to Britain – I think that would be bad for Britain and I don’t think there is a market for it.”

A spokeswoman for GB News said: “GB News does not comment on former staff.”

An Ofcom spokeswoman said: “We don’t recognise this characterisation of our approach, given we’ve found GB News in breach of our rules 11 times.

“We’ll shortly publish new research into what viewers and listeners think about politicians presenting programmes.”

In June 2023, Ofcom announced that it is carrying out “audience research regarding politicians presenting programmes” via a research agency.