Skip to main content

Hello. It looks like you’re using an ad blocker that may prevent our website from working properly. To receive the best experience possible, please make sure any ad blockers are switched off, or add to your trusted sites, and refresh the page.

If you have any questions or need help you can email us.

The trouble brewing at LBC

Was presenter Sangita Myska suspended for her comments on Israel?

Image: The New European/Getty

Just before Christmas, LBC was celebrating Sangita Myska being named radio presenter of the year in the prestigious Asian Media Awards. The judges praised her for “reaching out to people of all backgrounds and cultures, helping to tackle misconceptions and ignorance on all sides… and bringing a balanced perspective to discussions.”

The popular presenter’s career at the station came to an abrupt end earlier this month after what had seemed a brief and relatively unremarkable exchange, on her final weekend show, with the Israeli government spokesman Avi Hyman. She put to him that Iran had stated that its drone attack on Israel had been a “retaliatory strike” after Israel had hit its consulate in Syria. Hyman responded that it was “an outrageous framing of the reality”, claiming that Iran’s property had not been recognised as a diplomatic mission. It had been extensively reported that it was and Sir Richard Dalton, a former British diplomat in Iran who had been on Myska’s show earlier, had not disputed that it was.

A fellow presenter at LBC tells me on condition of anonymity: “There is shock about what has happened, and the assumption is it was a consequence of the Hyman interview, and, if that is the case, then who is going to be next? Colleagues like James O’Brien have been much more critical of Israel over Gaza. Sangita had built up a real rapport with her listeners and was one of the few we have with an impeccable broadcasting pedigree, after 20 years at the BBC.”

Myska was pulling in an average of 500,000 listeners for her afternoon shows on Saturday and Sunday – up 34.4% since she took over the slots in September 2022 – and a petition calling for LBC to reinstate her has reached 20,000 signatures. Politicians such as John McDonnell, Dawn Butler and Meral Hussein-Ece have expressed dismay at her disappearance.

The hapless Ali Miraj, a former Tory activist with no journalistic background, was brought in to stand in for Myska, only to be bombarded with questions from listeners asking where she was. Two who managed to get on air to actually ask the question were hastily cut off. 

LBC is owned by Global Media, where the founder and executive president is Ashley Tabor-King, who picked up a CBE in the New Year’s Honours.

After I disclosed how Michael Gove was having new power lines laid into the foreign secretary’s residence in Carlton Gardens in London, where he has been squatting since the end of his marriage to Sarah Vine, Kemi Badenoch appears to be getting her own official pad battle-ready ahead of a possible leadership bid should the pressure get too much for Rishi Sunak.

My mole tells me she is having no fewer than nine TV screens installed at Old Admiralty Building, her Business and Trade ministerial HQ. Badenoch – beaten to the top job by Liz Truss last time around – wants the screens spread across “media walls” so she can presumably watch her ascent to power played out in real time.

Laurence Fox may have been ordered to pay a total of £180,000 in libel damages to two people he called “paedophiles” online, but the actor turned populist politician may well feel with friends as rich as his he can continue to go around saying whatever he likes about anyone.

Mandrake hears that Brexit-backing businessman Jeremy Hosking has stumped up £994,973 for Fox’s Reclaim the Media channel on YouTube. Hosking pumped £519,753 into the Fox-led Reclaim Party last year, on top of £475,000 in 2022, perhaps anticipating it would help with the former Lewis star’s run for London mayor. Yet he is not on the ballot with Sadiq Khan and Susan Hall, because Reclaim did not fill in the forms correctly.

Hosking’s generosity notwithstanding, the latest accounts for Reclaim the Media show a net deficit of £1,010,933, and Fox should perhaps keep in mind that the loans from Hosking are officially described as “interest-free and repayable on demand”. Companies House is also tiring of the Reclaim Party’s dilatoriness in filing its accounts and shareholder records, and is taking steps to close it down.

The Metropolitan Police were swift to knock down the Mail on Sunday’s irresponsible front-page headline last weekend – “Police are so cowed by the anti-Semitic mob, they even cover up the holocaust” (sic). The Met explained that the decision to put protective sheeting over a memorial in Hyde Park in London commemorating Jews killed by the Nazis had actually been taken not by them, but by the park authorities as a precautionary measure, with a number of events scheduled to take place close to the memorial in the months ahead.

One insider on the paper admitted the lead was “particularly embarrassing”, but said the editor, Dave Dillon, had no choice but to resort to “crude agitprop” because so many of his staff had gone in waves of redundancies that he was struggling to come up with sufficiently strong news stories for the front. They added that the paper’s owner – the fourth Lord Rothernere – had been aghast as it brought up the whole “bloody awkward” matter of how the first Lord Rothermere had been an out-and-out supporter of Adolf Hitler. 

“Dave got the editorship in the chaos that followed the departures of Geordie Greig and Martin Clarke, and we all understood Rothermere was about to announce a reshuffle that would almost certainly have seen Dave eased out of the chair,” she says. “The key figure in this reshuffle was going to be Gerard Greaves, but what I can only call his indisposition has meant everyone’s now stuck where they are. It’s like Waiting for Godot – nobody comes, nobody goes, it’s awful.”

Although donations to the Liberal Democrats rose marginally last year – up from £1.9m to £2.9m – a significant chunk of the cash has had to be set aside for potential litigation costs in Sir Ed Davey’s increasingly besieged party. Mandrake has had sight of correspondence involving a senior party member who says this amounts to no less than £750,000. 

Aggrieved parties include Jo Hayes, a barrister who was ousted from the Lib Dems’ federal board and is seeking an injunction to get herself reinstated; David Campanale, seeking redress after being sacked as the party’s candidate in Sutton and Cheam; and Natalie Bird, who was suspended for wearing a T-shirt bearing the words “Woman: adult human female”.

The party is contesting the cases, but towards the end of last year it quietly agreed a substantial out-of-court settlement with Avril Coelho, once the chair of its Disability Association, who said she had been victimised by party officials to the extent it had made her feel suicidal. 

The legal bill is likely to be swelled further by counsel advising Davey on his forthcoming appearance before the Post Office inquiry, when he will have to account for his failure to take action as the relevant minister despite repeated appeals from the subposmasters.

Hello. It looks like you’re using an ad blocker that may prevent our website from working properly. To receive the best experience possible, please make sure any ad blockers are switched off, or add to your trusted sites, and refresh the page.

If you have any questions or need help you can email us.

See inside the Cheerio! edition

Image: The New European/Getty

In big trouble? You need BIG government

You only have to look out of the window to realise that the state is going to have to do a lot more – and do it as soon as possible

When Boris Johnson won the 2019 general election, the UK still had the Fixed-term Parliaments Act in place, meaning the next election should take place no later than May 2, 2024. Photo: Peter Summers/Getty

The Tories are ruling on borrowed time

As well as local polls, Britain should have been holding a general election this week. What happened?