OFCOM’S chief executive was grilled by an SNP MP on whether or not it was appropriate for Tory politicians to be presenting news programmes on channels such as GB News.

John Nicolson, MP for Ochil and South Perthshire, probed Dame Melanie Dawes on the number of programmes on GB News hosted by a sitting Tory MP, including Saturday morning with Esther (McVey) and Phil (Davies), as well as former culture secretary Nadine Dorries on TalkTV.

Nicolson pushed Dawes on the broadcast regulator’s rules, which state no politician can work as an interviewer on news and current affairs programmes - adding that the issue was a vivid example of the “creeping politicisation of news channels”.

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Speaking at the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee on Tuesday morning, Nicolson said the Ofcom rules were “very clear” that no politician can be used as an interviewer or reporters “unless editorially justified”.

He told the committee: “That seems very reasonable, and then I'll look at a tweet from HM Treasury, the official Twitter account of HM Treasury.

“Tomorrow Chancellor Jeremy Hunt will appear on Saturday morning with Esther and Phil.

“He'll be discussing next week's budget and the government's plans to half inflation.

“Esther and Phil, for those who don't know who they are, are Esther McVey and Philip Davies. They're both Tory MPs.

“Why are Tory MPs interviewing the Tory Chancellor on a UK channel?”

Dawes replied that Nicolson was correct and that there are “strict rules” for serving politicians, as well as those seeking office.

She added: “Aside from that, they are able to present shows and to invite on whoever they like but of course due impartiality is going to be needed and that will depend a little bit on the nature of the programme, whether it's a straight news programme, whether it's a discussion programme, but I don't know whether this programme has yet been aired or whether it's still to be aired…”

Nicolson said it was “clear” that no politician can work as an interviewer, while Dawes said that was specifically on a “news programme”.

The SNP MP added: “I think your point is GB News is hardly a news channel by the normal standards, but I think they would see themselves as a news channel.

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“Your rules say you cannot be an MP and be an interviewer. GB News regards itself as a news channel, and two MPs here are interviewing the chancellor with HM Treasury tweeting out a trail.

“How is it possible that they're not breaking the rules that I've just read out, that are your rules at Ofcom?”

Dawes said she wasn’t sure whether or not the programme had been broadcast, as Ofcom is a “post-broadcast regulator”, and that she was not clear on the format either.

Nicolson described the programme as “two Tory MPs sitting in chairs beside a fireplace, interviewing the Tory Chancellor”.

Dawes replied: “So they will need to make sure that a range of views are brought to bear in the room, that will depend on the overall programme, who else is there, what comment they provide.”

She added that there are “quite a lot of examples” of former and current politicians presenting shows which were within the rules due to platforming a range of different views.

However, Nicholson pointed out that this is not the case in terms of the upcoming GB News interview with the Chancellor.

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He added: “Esther and Phil are not interviewing the Chancellor about cooking or what he thinks about sport. They are interviewing him, the Treasury says about the Budget, it clearly breaches your rules. There's no ambiguity about that.”

Dawes said she would be “happy to come back on that” and the specifics of the programme after it had been broadcast.

Nicolson replied: “Good, I look forward to hearing about that because I think that's an unambiguous breach of the rules, and it's part of the creeping politicisation of news channels, as the Chair said, the kind of Americanisation that we're seeing.”