Dan Wootton sacked by MailOnline, as Ofcom opens investigation into GB News
Presenter Dan Wootton has been sacked as a columnist by the MailOnline, in the wake of the controversy that followed an episode of his show on GB News, during which guest Laurence Fox made sexist comments about journalist Ava Evans (aka Ava Santina).
The decision by DMG Media, the parent company of MailOnline, comes one day after both Wootton and Fox were suspended by GB News.
Wootton’s column had already been paused amid investigations by DMG and News UK, following a string of allegations that surfaced in August, all of which the New-Zealand-born journalist denies.
A spokesperson said: “Following events this week, DMG Media can confirm that Dan Wootton’s freelance column with MailOnline – which had already been paused – has now been terminated, along with his contract.”
The segment on his show on Tuesday (26 September) focused on Evans’ participation on the BBC’s Politics Live a day earlier.
GB News reportedly claimed, in a since-deleted online article, that she “smirked” at comedian Geoff Norcott during a debate about whether a minister for men is needed.
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Fox hit out at Evans and launched into a sexist rant, asking: “Who would want to shag her?… no self-respecting man [would] climb into bed” with her.
The former Lewis star went on to say that only a “cucked little incel” would choose to have sex with Evans – a reference to the right-wing “involuntary celibate” conspiracy theory.
The clip quickly went viral and has resulted in calls for GB News to be taken off the air, with Ofcom announcing on Thursday (28 September) that it will investigate after more than 7,000 complaints were lodged by members of the public.
The broadcasting watchdog said it is investigating the right-wing channel under Rule 2.3 of the Broadcasting Code, which states that, in applying generally accepted standards, broadcasters must ensure that material which may cause offence is justified by the context.
Ofcom decisions ‘based on facts and evidence’
Ofcom’s chief executive Melanie Dawes said: “Over the last few days, there has been speculation and commentary about our role as the independent broadcast regulator. These are important issues and I wanted to be clear about our rules.
“Parliament sets objectives on how the broadcast sector should be regulated, we set and enforce rules to achieve these objectives.
“Contrary to some claims, these rules remain unchanged.
“They are designed to protect audiences from offensive and harmful material, and to uphold the integrity of broadcast news and current affairs programming, while always ensuring that freedom of expression is front and centre in every decision we take. This is highly valued by audiences and central to our democracy.
“The decisions we take, always based on facts and evidence once a programme has aired, are vital if we are to protect our vibrant media landscape. We continue to apply and enforce these rules without fear or favour.”
Following the outcry over Fox’s comments, Wootton issued an apology on social media, calling Evans “brilliant” and pronouncing his “regret” regarding the interview.
However, Fox responded to the apology with what is believed to be an exchange of private messages between him and Wootton following the show.
In the messages, Wootton allegedly wrote: “You can imagine them freaking out in the gallery”, along with several laughing emojis.
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