Long stories short
More than 50 people died in a suicide bombing in southwestern Pakistan.A 16 year-old boy was arrested in connection with the felling of the Robin Hood tree on Hadrian’s Wall.Sir Michael Gambon, who starred in Harry Potter and The King’s Speech, died aged 82.
Marshalling in a new era
Dan Wootton’s suspension this week as an anchor at the UK’s right-wing GB News station left many viewers baffled. His on-screen behaviour invited it (see below) but he’d already survived reports that he’d tricked or bribed scores of men – including former colleagues – into sending him nude photos and videos. Why now?
Also this week, 21 potential bidders expressed an interest in buying the The Daily Telegraph including GB News co-owner Paul Marshall.
So what? The two could be connected. Wootton’s fall looks like Marshall clearing the decks in an attempt to prove he’s a respectable media owner. Wootton has been collecting Ofcom complaints since his first appearance on the channel, when he presented a fiery monologue on the “madness” of Covid lockdowns. On Tuesday he burbled and guffawed as the actor Lawrence Fox delivered a misogynistic tirade about a female journalist.
An auction for the Telegraph is expected within weeks and the stakes for Marshall – and the British media landscape – are high:
Marshall wants to make GB News the centre of the next Tory leadership race.To that end he’s employed Conservative MPs Lee Anderson, Jacob Rees-Mogg, Esther McVey and Philip Davies as presenters.Owning The Telegraph would cement him as Tory kingmaker.But Ofcom, the regulator, can be expected to take a close look at GB News before allowing it.
“We don’t see Paul Marshall as being a risk-free bidder,” says Dr Alice Enders, head of re
search at Enders Analysis. “GB News is not making the bid, but the issue of material influence will be considered.”
The little hedgie that could. Sir Paul Roderick Clucas Marshall is fringe media’s Rupert Murdoch. Co-founder of the Marshall Wace hedge fund, his first venture in 2017 was the opinion website UnHerd – motto “Challenging the herd with new and bold thinking”. Marshall was joined at UnHerd by founder and former Times comment editor Tim Montgomerie, who resigned a year after its launch. Marshall’s next step was co-founding GB News and sticking with the channel through its early troubles (it was mocked for low production standards and Andrew Neil abruptly departed as launch anchor).
Who’s in Paul’s army? Marshall’s consortium includes the anti-Trump US Republican Ken Griffin, founder of Citadel, a hedge fund with $62 billion in assets under management. While the Telegraph’s expected asking price of £480 million would all but clean out Marshall’s £630 million net worth, Griffin brings $35 billion in personal wealth to the party.
Liberal, Actually? Described in one interview as possessing “the bushy hair and quiet, gentle manner of a character from a Richard Curtis sitcom”, Marshall doesn’t present as a determined anti-wokester. He spent most of his political life as a LibDem, working as a research assistant for Charles Kennedy, standing unsuccessfully for the party in Fulham in 1987 and backing the so-called Orange Book free-market LibDem sect that pushed the party into coalition with the Conservatives in 2010. He donated to the LibDems until 2014.
Brexit through the gift shop. Marshall’s Road to Damascus went through Brussels – he fervently and financially backed the Leave campaign, persuading Michael Gove to join him. Gove’s move enticed Boris Johnson to the Leave camp and Marshall backed Gove’s short-lived leadership campaign in return. Like many Brexiteers, Marshall has recently opened a Dublin office and is married to a European – his French-Hungarian wife Sabina runs an antiques shop.
The zeal of the convert. Marshall went to Merchant Taylors’ School in Northwood – motto: “producing gentlemen since 1561” – and says he loves Schumann, Fleetwood Mac, Manchester United and Jesus, worshipping at London’s Holy Trinity Brompton network of churches since 1997. Griffin is also a committed Christian.
Soros giveth… Marshall’s City career led through Mercury Asset Management to founding his own firm in 1997 with £25 million from the conspiracy world’s second-most hated figure (after Bill Gates), George Soros. Marshall Wace and BlackRock often invest together – including in Rumble, a video site currently sheltering Russell Brand’s earnings.
… and he giveth back. Marshall does a lot for charity but doesn’t like to talk about it. He is chairman of Ark Schools, a chain of 40 academies, and founder of the Education Policy Institute and the Marshall Institute for Philanthropy and Social Entrepreneurship.
Marshall & sons Marshall’s kids Winston and Giovanna are musicians. Winston was the banjo plucker in Mumford & Sons until he praised the right-wing journalist Andy Ngo’s book attacking Antifa and departed the band. Winston now fanboys Jordan Peterson and hosts a podcast for the Spectator, owned by the Telegraph and thus, potentially, by his father.
This article was amended after publication.
aLSO, in the nibs
Not for EU
Not quite on track
Misinformation in Slovakia
reviewed this week
We’re watching: Pygmalion and Vanya
We’re reading: Great Uncle Harry
We’re listening to: Cousin by Wilco
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