ANDREW Neil’s GB News channel has secured more than £60m of funding ahead of its launch.

The 24-hour news station, which aims to launch later this year, will now start recruiting journalists, with bosses reportedly keen to poach high profile names including Piers Morgan and Alan Sugar. 

In an announcement on Wednesday, GB News revealed that Sir Paul Marshall, a prominent hedge fund manager, and Legatum, a Dubai-based investment group, would become major shareholders in the company.

READ MORE: Andrew Neil caught out after This Morning claim about Nicola Sturgeon

Legatum is known for its funding of the influential think-tank the Legatum Institute, which launched in 2007. The Financial Times once described them as the "think-tank at intellectual heart of ‘hard’ Brexit" - a characterisation that they reject.

The charity was set up by Christopher Chandler, a New Zealand-born tycoon who was once a major shareholder in the Russian state energy firm Gazprom. 

In 2018, he was accused of being a group of cross-party MPs of “working for Russian intelligence services”.

The claims were made under parliamentary privilege. They were based on files written by Monaco’s security services, including information from France’s DST foreign intelligence agency.

Chandler is described as an “object of interest” to the DST because of his alleged Kremlin ties.

He dismissed the claim. “No, I’m not a Russian spy. I don’t speak Russian. I don’t know anybody in the Russian state thing,” he told The Guardian.

Marshall is the co-founder of hedge fund Marshall Wace and was a donor to the Vote Leave campaign. 

His stake in GB News will be in a personal capacity, the company added.

Discovery, the American media group, has committed £20m to fund the launch.

The station will be chaired by Neil, who will also host a prime-time programme on the channel.

The National:

Neil said he was "thrilled to have such a broad range of high-calibre investors who share our belief that many British people are crying out for a news service that is more diverse and more representative of their values and concerns.

"GB News is a massive undertaking in a fiercely competitive market but we're confident there's an appetite for a fresh approach to news in Britain, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland."

GB News has been set up by Andrew Cole, a director of Liberty Global, and Mark Schneider.

The chief executive will be Angelos Frangopoulos, a former Sky News Australia executive. He said the network would be looking to hire 120 journalists. 

Frangopoulos said: "This is a significant investment in British journalism at a time when it's needed most.

"GB News will be proudly independent and fearless in tackling the issues people care about, especially in communities outside London."

The channel says it expects to reach 96% of British television households via Freeview, Sky, Virgin Media, YouView and Freesat. It will also have streaming, video-on-demand and audio services.

* “Following the publication of this article, The National has been alerted to an extract from UK Parliament's Hansard which states that the allegations made against Christopher Chandler in a report by Donald Berlin which had been commissioned by Robert Eringer, which Eringer subsequently leaked to the media, and which were then aired in the UK's House of Commons, have been wholly discredited.

On 22 July 2020, the Conservative MP for Wycombe, Steve Baker MP, made a speech in the House of Commons which entirely exonerated Mr Chandler of the allegations made by Bob Seely. Mr Baker declared Mr Chandler to be 'innocent' of those charges after having reviewed the findings of former members of law enforcement agencies and military intelligence who spent six months looking into the matter.

These findings were then independently reviewed by Richard Walton, the former head of Counterterrorism Command of the UK's Metropolitan Police, who concluded that the allegations made against Mr Chandler were 'totally false'.