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GB News has suspended its lead prime-time presenter Dan Wootton and his co-presenter Laurence Fox after regulator Ofcom pledged to “assess” the actor and activist’s outburst on last night’s edition of Dan Wootton Tonight.
During the interview, Fox said of political journalist Ava Evans – as Wootton laughed along – “who’d want to shag that?”
Wootton, who is the highest-paid host on £600,000 a year on GB News, smiled and laughed as Fox denigrated Ms Evans, branding her a “little woman”.
“Show me a single self-respecting man that would like to climb into bed with that woman ever, ever, who wasn’t an incel,” Fox said. “We need powerful, strong, amazing women who make great points for themselves. We don’t need these sort of feminist 4.0. They’re pathetic and embarrassing. Who’d want to shag that?”
In the exchange, which today provoked a media backlash, Wootton chipped in: “I’m just going to provide a touch of balance”, saying that Ms Evans had responded to comments aimed at her about her take on male mental health. Then he added: “She is a very beautiful woman.”
On discovering she was the target of both men’s misogynist speculations, Ms Evans said on X (formerly Twitter): “Laurence Fox just did a whole speech on GB News on why men apparently won’t shag me… I feel physically sick.”
She later told her employer Joe Politics: “This is actually nothing to do with me. This is a producer, presenter problem. This is a network problem.”
Following Fox’s suspension from the channel, Wootton posted on X: “I apologise unreservedly for what was a very unfortunate lapse in judgement on my part.” His comments appear to have prompted Fox to publish their private messages, after last night’s on-air exchange about Ms Evans.
In a tweet, Fox said “honesty is the best policy” and posted messages showing Wootton apparently using laughing emojis, writing of the exchange: “Can you imagine them freaking out in the Gallery!!!!!” as Fox replied: “So much fun. xx.”
Fox also published messages to support his claim that his interview with Wootton was pre-agreed with show planners and that GB News knew what he intended to say on air.
#MediaToo investigation AND CROWDFUNDER
This is the start of a wider report into the toxic culture of the national media. We want to keep telling the story. Contributions to our #MediaToo crowdfunder will go directly to funding our journalism.
GB News’ chief executive Angelos Frangopoulos wrote to staff this afternoon announcing the suspension and promising to “investigate the comments made on air by Laurence Fox last night”.
Byline Times understands that it was the threat of “staff insurrection” over how Wootton, the show’s executive editor, handled the segment – and the apparent mocking of production staff (per Fox’s tweets) – which led to Wootton’s suspension.
One senior host told this newspaper it had been “inevitable”.
Other GB News sources suggest Fox and Wootton will never again appear on the channel. Senior newsroom sources have said Frangopoulos ignored warnings from staff members that the continual employment of Fox and Wootton was “an accident waiting to happen”. One senior presenter said: “It’s about time. But why only suspend Wootton? They should get rid of him for good.”
Employees have painted a picture of a “rudderless” organisation that has lost hundreds of experienced journalists in the past two years, driven out by “presenter power” and a management team which refuses to listen to their warnings about potential breaches of the Ofcom code, and which is now has a staff heavy with “uni leavers and ideologues”.
GB News has claimed it doesn’t have a toxic workplace culture.
But the latest incident – which GB News insists does not “reflect our values” – could lead the news channel facing yet another Ofcom investigation, adding to the 11 currently active, on top of three others the regulator has previously upheld against the troubled network.
That number may rise due to Wootton’s speech against Byline Times, after this newspaper made serious allegations about his private and personal conduct, and Wootton’s misogynistic exchange with Fox.
Byline Times lodged a formal complaint through lawyers to Ofcom two months ago after Wootton appeared on his primetime 9pm show to try and dismiss our three-year investigation into serial allegations of catfishing to solicit sexually explicit material as a “smear campaign” by “dark forces” – while repeatedly and wrongly characterising this newspaper as a “hard-left blog” and evoking the language of a culture war.
One of our journalists had his car smeared with what appeared to be blood two days later and the Byline Times team was emailed “Re: Daniel Wootton” to tell us “there will be blood” on the editorial floor, which was followed the next day by a threatening phone call. Another journalist was targeted with sophisticated and persistent cyber-attacks. Police are investigating the incidents.
Though Wootton denies any of the potentially criminal allegations against him, he has never denied controlling or using the fake online identities of ‘Martin Branning’ and ‘Maria Joseph’.
Following his attack on Byline Times on live TV, Wootton set up a legal crowdfunder to apparently sue this newspaper for defamation. It raised £35,000 (out of a target of £150,000) and was supported by various of his guests and supporters including Laurence Fox and the writers Allison Pearson and Douglas Murray. It appears the page has subsequently been deleted.
Following the allegations in Byline Times’ special investigation, Wootton faces investigations by his former employers at News UK, and has been suspended pending an investigation by Mail Online.
Until now, he has not faced any investigation from GB News.
Tom Latchem and Dan Evans are former colleagues of Dan Wootton’s from the News of the World. None of the sources in this investigation were paid for their testimony
Byline Times is currently investigating Dan Wootton’s two years at GB News and will be publishing our investigations in the coming weeks. If you have any information, or complaints about Wootton, or his aliases ‘Martin Branning’ or ‘Maria Joseph’, contact this newspaper in complete confidence by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org