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GB News star presenter Dan Wootton tonight admitted live on air to “regrets” and “errors of judgement” in his past while failing to address the detailed allegations of Byline Times’ story that he used a fake online persona to trick and bribe scores of men into revealing compromising sexual material over at least a 10-year period.
In a monologue to viewers at the top of his 9 o’clock show Dan Wootton Tonight, Wootton said: “I, like all fallible human beings, have made errors of judgment in the past.”
Without providing his audience any context as to the nature of the “errors”, he added: “Who doesn’t have regrets? Should I be cancelled for them years later? Or do you accept that I have learned and changed? Over the past few years I have grown professionally and personally. And I have found the meaning of true love.”
It came as it was announced that Byline Times’ three-year investigation into Wootton – a highly-paid columnist for MailOnline and former executive editor of The Sun – has provoked their publishers to address this newspaper’s revelations.
In a report on ITV News at 10 on Tuesday evening, journalist Rebecca Barry said that “both The Sun and The Mail have confirmed tonight that they are investigating allegations against him”.
A representative for Dan Wootton on Monday declined to provide Byline Times with an on-the-record response. It is understood that he strongly denies all allegations of criminality. The representative did not clarify, when asked, whether Wootton also denies being Martin Branning.
Wootton started his show on Tuesday night with a diatribe against a so-called “cesspit” of “thousands of trolls” on Twitter intent on having him and GB News – the UK’s fourth most-viewed news channel – “cancelled”.
Ignoring the substantive issues raised in Byline Times’ story – a second instalment of which will be published on Wednesday – Wootton warned “there are dark forces out to try and take this brilliant channel down… because GB News is the biggest threat to the establishment in decades, and they will stop at nothing to destroy us”.
On Monday, Byline Times revealed some of extensive evidence it holds to show that, between June 2008 and 2018, Wootton – who is gay – posed as a fictitious showbusiness agent called “Martin Branning” to offer sums of up to £30,000 “tax free” to his targets, many of whom were heterosexual men.
Among them are a very senior executive at Rupert Murdoch’s News UK alongside at least six other staff at The Sun newspaper – one with close links to News UK CEO Rebekah Brooks – friends, Facebook associates and users of the dating apps Grindr and Gaydar.
Two of the targets made criminal complaints to Scotland Yard without knowing the real identity of their tormentor with detectives aware of the activities of Branning – whose name is a portmanteau of EastEnders characters Martin Fowler and Max Branning – since 2019.
Jim Waterson of The Guardian also revealed on Tuesday that he had been investigating complaints about Branning for three years, but had not been able to trace his real identity.
Byline Times’ journalists handed a 28-page dossier of evidence to the Metropolitan Police for investigation on 20 June 2023. Scotland Yard confirmed to The Independent that “in June 2023, the Metropolitan Police was contacted with regards to allegations of sexual offences committed by a man. Officers are assessing information to establish whether any criminal offence has taken place. There is no police investigation at this time.”
During his GB News monologue, Wootton also emphasised that he had not made any comments during the furore around Huw Edwards, after The Sun made anonymous and unsubstantiated allegations about a BBC News presenter. He had been on leave in New Zealand over the past two weeks when the scandal broke.
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However, when This Morning presenter Phillip Schofield was recently embroiled in allegations about his relationship with a younger member of staff, Wootton cited a ‘whistleblower’ who declared: “I would have thought in this day and age that a mainstream broadcaster such as ITV ought to be seen to be doing all it can to deal with issues like this, find out where the truth lies and, in the meantime, suspend those who the rumours concern?”
Wootton appeared to condone the message by demanding “the truth, this time; not the saccharin fairy-tale Schofield offered up on the sofa to an unsuspecting British public”.
Insiders at GB News said that the presenter cried when he first saw Byline Times’ published story on Monday in the GB News green-room during the opening ad-break on his show.
Another source claimed that his production team of 16 people were shocked and the atmosphere was “funereal”.
Insiders also claimed that Wootton took advice from a former tabloid editor. Whatever that advice was, he seems to have decided to stake the colours of the entire GB News operation to his own career by claiming that Byline Times’ journalism was somehow an attack on the channel, rather than a public interest revelation about his personal behaviour over many years, while employed at other news organisations.
Dan Evans and Tom Latchem are former colleagues of Dan Wootton’s from the News of the World
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