Subscribe to our newsletter for exclusive editorial emails from the Byline Times Team.
GB News is employing at least five men who have faced past allegations of sexual impropriety – including one accused of raping a colleague and two others of groping offences, Byline Times can reveal in the wake of the broadcaster’s misogyny storm.
Three of the men lost previous roles in other media companies following the serious allegations while the – now suspended – GB News presenter Dan Wootton advocated at a misconduct hearing for a fourth accused of persistent sexual harassment.
The fifth is the network’s chief executive Angelos Frangopoulos, who was named in a sexual harassment complaint last year that saw a female staffer leave GB News with a five-figure settlement having signed a non-disclosure agreement.
None of those involved has ever been charged by police and it is not clear whether GB News asked the three who had lost previous jobs about the circumstances of their departures when they were being recruited.
It comes as the news network continues to consider the future of Wootton following his misogynistic broadcast with actor-turned-activist Laurence Fox last Tuesday – which occurred just a week after Wootton was left to lead prime-time coverage of the Russell Brand affair, despite himself being at the centre of allegations of blackmail and serial sexual catfishing by this newspaper, following a three-year special investigation.
Wootton has never denied using, or being connected, to the false online identities of ‘Martin Branning’ or ‘Maria Joseph’ – although he denies criminality.
The 40-year-old was suspended from GB News on Thursday along with Fox and Calvin Robinson, who on Friday credited Wootton as being “significant” to the building of the broadcaster through his influence on recruitment both “behind the cameras as well as on-screen talent”.
Today Byline Times continues to examine further allegations of sexism, along with harassment and racism, at the self-styled “free speech channel” and can reveal how it employs at least five men who have faced past allegations of sexual impropriety.
GB News declined to go on the record, but it is understood that the channel views itself as an equal opportunities employer, with workplace rules and codes, and has a procedure in which claims of wrongdoing are investigated and acted upon.
It says it addresses and investigates formal complaints professionally, even where these are against senior producers and presenters, and takes appropriate steps.
This newspaper has spoken to more than 15 people with knowledge of the allegations against the five men.
The most serious allegation relates to a senior male GB News employee, who left his previous role at another media organisation having been accused of raping a junior female colleague.
The incident allegedly occurred in a hotel room following after-work drinks in 2021, following which the complainant required extensive external support and then left her job.
The matter was escalated to the company’s senior managers but a human resources investigation ended when the complainant was unable, for medical reasons, to make a statement to police, and the alleged perpetrator left his role and took up a new position at GB News.
A source with knowledge of the situation said: “The allegation was credible and detailed and sufficiently serious for the man involved to leave his job. It had a very big impact on the woman in question and her mental health suffered significantly afterwards and she was unable to continue in her role either.
“The details of the allegation were known to people within GB News when the man was given a new job there. His arrival upset a lot of people. Some said they would quit if they had to work with him and he ended up being placed into a role where they would not have to share a studio space.”
‘Grim’ Grimes Messages
Another GB News controversy centres on the persistent sexual harassment of a junior straight male colleague by gay GB News presenter Darren Grimes.
Grimes was said to have swarmed the man with “incessant” calls – sometimes dozens in a single day – and messages in which he called him “angel” and made unwelcome invitations to his hotel room.
The complainant is said to have been initially reluctant to “rock the boat” over the alleged harassment because Grimes claimed to have an influential friendship with Angelos Frangopoulos, but was forced to after Grimes allegedly spread false rumours about him in the workplace.
Of Grimes, a source speaking on condition of anonymity told Byline Times: “At first bosses tried to dismiss it as an ‘office crush’. But then line managers demanded it be taken seriously. The guy involved was going through the ringer. He nearly had a nervous breakdown. He thought he was going to lose his job for speaking out. It was very stressful. There were tears.”
Last September, Grimes was removed from his presenting role for around a month but reinstated after Dan Wootton advocated for him via video call in a misconduct hearing attended by the network’s COO Mark Shipper and Mick Booker, among others.
“The attention the lad was getting was full on,” a second source told Byline Times. “A complaint was made, with evidence. Some of the messages were grim. People who saw them were shocked.
“But the senior editorial players just couldn’t, or wouldn’t, see the problem with it. They didn’t want to accept there was a problem with their on-screen talent. It was minimised until journalists started threatening to quit their jobs, and then it eventually went to HR.”
Grimes disappeared from screens for a month but returned after Dan Wootton, who is GB News’ highest-paid presenter earning £600,000-a-year, spoke up for him.
A third confidential source told this newspaper: “There was a meeting during which Dan strongly argued for Darren to be allowed to continue. Darren had even announced on social media that his show was ending. So, there was real surprise when he returned to air.”
Byline Times understands that the complainant was given a job away from Grimes.
The third source added: “As far as the complainant went, GBNews’ safeguarding amounted to letting them know by text when Grimes was due to be in the studio, so he could avoid him.”
#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.
Groping and More Harassment Claims
This newspaper can also reveal how a third male GB News worker left a previous highly-paid freelance role accused of groping women at work parties.
And a fourth GB News employee resigned from a prominent media position after allegedly inappropriately touching a female colleague “many times” at a work event before harassing her with calls, texts and emails.
Last month, Byline Times told how GB News paid a five-figure sum to an employee who threatened to bring an employment claim in which sexual harassment was alleged against its chief executive Angelos Frangopoulos.
Frangopoulos, a married father of five, was alleged to have propositioned and declared feelings for a female member of staff in a late-night phone call after work drinks in 2021. Having been rebuffed, Frangopoulos then allegedly undermined and marginalised the woman in her role before she left and got employment lawyers to negotiate a private five-figure settlement with the channel which required her to sign a non-disclosure agreement.
“She felt ostracised, bullied and became psychologically distressed, essentially for turning down someone’s advances,” a source with knowledge of the case said.
In an earlier instalment of this newspaper’s investigation into GB News, published on 10 August, we revealed incidents of alleged racism at the network and told how in separate workplace incidents involving other GB News executives a woman went on sick leave after allegedly being told she was “so ugly” she should “put a bag” on her head and that she should “open” her “legs” to win a promotion.
Rather than taking legal action, she is said to have quietly left her job in disgust.
GB News’ position is that it doesn’t have a toxic workplace culture and that the company enjoys a good relationship with current and former employees.
Don’t miss a story
GB News Governance Questioned
Dr Bethany Usher of Newcastle University, author of Journalism and Celebrity and Journalism and Crime, says GB News faces serious questions about its workplace culture.
“When there are so many serious accusations without serious investigations, then governance at GB News has to be questioned,” she told Byline Times. “What are its internal practices around safeguarding, recruitment, and the protection of employees in the workplace?”
Frangopoulos told the House of Commons’ Culture, Media and Sport Committee that he would “monitor” the “serious allegations” about Wootton – stopping short of investigating them – when asked about Byline Times’ investigation by its chair Conservative MP Dame Caroline Dinenage.
This newspaper can confirm that GB News has not asked to see any of the evidence underpinning our three-year deep investigation into Wootton’s secret life behind the catfishing personas Martin Branning and Maria Joseph, which he used to trick and bribe scores of men into revealing compromising digital images.
Frangopoulos told the committee that “serious allegations have been made against Dan Wootton, but, as far we are aware, none of these allegations have been admitted or proved by an independent body. GB News continues to monitor the situation”.
The statement came after the announcement of separate probes by Wootton’s previous employers News UK – publishers of The Sun – and Associated Newspapers Limited – publishers of MailOnline, which last week terminated his column which had already been paused following our investigation.
Byline Times has also revealed that Wootton rented the social media profiles of male adult film stars, used them to set up personal liaisons with people of interest to Wootton, and then supplied them with cameras to secretly record sex sessions in hotels and on at least on occasion in their own home.
The Brand Debate
This newspaper’s investigations and the Laurence Fox controversy also follow a broadcast by Dan Wootton last week in which he railed against so-called “cancel culture” as he led the GB News debate on the matter of Russell Brand’s alleged raping and sexual harassment of women during his media career.
On Tuesday 19 September, Wootton’s GB News show hosted three segments addressing the Brand affair, with Wootton strongly criticising the “trial by media” of Brand and the demonetisation of his YouTube channel.
Wootton, who also has a Facebook page which Byline Times understands has earned him in the region of £250,000-a-year in advertising revenue – but which he has all but ceased to post on since our revelations began on July 17 – hosted a poll in which he asked his viewers whether it was “wrong” for YouTube to have suspended Brand’s income, with 76% of respondents apparently agreeing.
In one section, Wootton hosted a live discussion with renowned American journalist Megyn Kelly who was critical of Brand’s alleged sexual history, which is said to have included a relationship with a teenager.
In another, Wootton grimaced and became angry when writer and broadcaster Anna May Mangan declared that those accused of serious sexual crimes should step back from public-facing roles while they are investigated. However, at no point during the two-hour show did Wootton declare that he was himself facing his own sexual accusations.
“If the BBC was responding to allegations of sexual offences in the same way, then it would rightly be criticised, and GB News would be at the front of that,” Dr Usher added. “When GB News is broadcasting about Phillip Schofield, Huw Edwards, and Russell Brand, then it must apply suitable internal scrutiny to allegations affecting itself as a news organisation or be called out for hypocrisy and double standards. It has a duty of care under employment law to look after its staff.
“The question here is whether the cultures of some other news organisations, where men have targeted younger colleagues or abused their privileged positions of fame with relative immunity, also exist at GB News. A credible news organisation would surely seek to tackle these sorts of serious issues quickly and transparently.”
Byline Times reached out to Darren Grimes for comment on the allegations against him via GB News, his legal representative, and directly by phone, messages, and in a hand-delivered letter, but had yet to hear from him at the time of publication. This article will be updated if we do so.
A spokesperson for Dan Wootton was contacted for comment.
Dan Evans and Tom Latchem were colleagues of Dan Wootton at the News of the World between 2007 and 2011. None of the sources in this investigation have been paid for their testimony
Do you any information for Byline Times’ special investigation? Get in touch confidentially by emailing: email@example.com