GB News suspends Dan Wootton and Laurence Fox over comments about journalist Ava Evans on show

GB News suspends Dan Wootton and Laurence Fox over comments about journalist Ava Evans on show

GB News has suspended presenter Dan Wootton following comments made on his programme by Laurence Fox about a female journalist.

The suspension of Wootton follows the earlier suspension of actor-turned politician Fox following his “misogynistic” rant live on air about Ava Evans.

In a statement on Wednesday afternoon the broadcaster said: “GB News has suspended Dan Wootton following comments made on his programme by Laurence Fox last night.

“This follows our decision earlier today to formally suspend Mr Fox. We are conducting a full investigation.”

Ms Evans said she was “really hurt” by Fox’s comments (PA)
Ms Evans said she was “really hurt” by Fox’s comments (PA)

Ms Evans, the political correspondent for online news site Joe, said she was “really hurt” by Fox’s comments, which have been described as “unacceptable, unjustifiable and indefensible”.

She also described received threatening messages in a "really nasty" past 24 hours since the incident.

Fox described Ms Evans as a “little woman” during an episode of Dan Wootton Tonight on Tuesday, before making a string of comments including: “Who would want to sh*g that?”

During the exchange, Wootton was heard laughing. He later apologised for the remarks, saying he “regretted” the interview.

Ms Evans told Channel 5’s Jeremy Vine show on Wednesday: “I’m really hurt by it… I’m shocked about by it, I’m shocked that it went out.

“This is the sort of talk that you worry that men have about you when you’re not in the room. There is always sort of a worry in the back of your mind which is: ‘Are people actually interested in what I’m saying or what I’m doing?’

“Or are they just looking at me…physically? And I think that that clip proves that there are some men who are.”

She added: “I’d much rather be judged or asked about my work… than have people talking about my body.”

Sharing a clip of Fox’s tirade on social media site X, formerly known as Twitter, on Tuesday, Ms Evans wrote: “I feel physically sick”.

The incident has been met with widespread outrage, from journalists, politicans and members of the public. Christian Calgie, senior political correspondent at the Daily Express, branded Fox’s comments “utterly vile” while The Guardian’s political editor Pippa Crerar called them “very grim” and “a new low”.

LBC presenter Iain Dale called Fox a “vile, despicable misogynist” while journalist and activist Owen Jones described his behaviour as “nauseating unapologetic misogyny”.

Conservative MP Philip Davies, who hosts a show on GB News, said: “Laurence Fox’s disgraceful remarks were completely unacceptable, unjustifiable and indefensible.”

But Fox doubled down on his remarks on X, saying: “I stand by every word of what I said.” “It’s called free speech,” he added.

Fox also posted a screenshot seemingly showing a text exchange between him and Wootton.

Fox wrote: “Making you giggle is my weekly joy”. His message was followed by two laughing emojis.

Wooton allegedly responded with three laughing emojis, writing: “You can imagine them freaking out in the gallery!!!!!”

“So much fun. Xx” replied Fox.

In a post on X on Wednesday, Wootton expressed “regret” over his behaviour, claiming he laughed “out of shock and surprise”.

“Having looked at the footage, I can see how inappropriate my reaction to his totally unacceptable remarks appears to be and want to be clear that I was in no way amused by the comments,” he wrote.

“I reacted as I did out of shock and surprise in an off guard moment while working out how to respond as he continued to speak by searching for tweets @AvaSantina had sent earlier in the day while having them read out in my ear at the same time.

“However, I should have intervened immediately to challenge offensive and misogynistic remarks.

“I apologise unreservedly for what was a very unfortunate lapse in judgement on my part under the intense pressure of a bizarre exchange. I know I should have done better.”

GB News has also apologised, calling Fox’s comments “totally unacceptable”.

“What he said does not reflect our values and we apologise unreservedly for the comments and the offence they have caused,” said the channel in a statement. “We have launched an investigation and will be apologising to the individual involved.”

Ms Evans said on X on Wednesday afternoon she had not yet received an apology over the incident but later told the BBC Newscast podcast she had recieved one.

"I've had my apology from GB News, which I was waiting for all day,” she said.

"It was an email from the editor - a very gracious email - basically telling me that what Fox said was not representative of the rest of the GB News outfit.

"That's actually probably the best apology I could have gotten. Honestly, not to cast doubt on our media landscape, but I didn't actually think anything was going to happen.

"I don't want to say I'm pleased by it. I just think that's probably the best outcome I could have hoped for."

She also said she had received messages of support from the public following the incident but also "threats that have come into my inbox".

Speaking to the BBC Newscast podcast, she said: "I don't know where this is going to go. I don't know how social media is going to react to the news [that Laurence Fox has been suspended].

"There is a following that he has that is quite fanatical. I think that's possibly the most polite way I can say it and I've already been looking at a few threats that have come into my inbox, and I'm like, over the evening, is this going to really ramp up and maybe I'm going to have to watch over my shoulder before I go to my house, just so that I know no one's looking at where I live.

"Just before we came in here, there was a tweet that said 'watch your back.' If I get into my head that they're credible, then I'll be frightened, so instead I'll just go on, 'It's people online'."

When asked whether she accepted the GB News apology, she added: "Let's just see how the investigation goes. I'm also interested to see how the Ofcom investigation goes."

Media regulator Ofcom said it has received “a number of complaints” about Fox’s comments, which it is assessing.

Technology Secretary Michelle Donelan said Ofcom had to take the response to the "next stage"

Ms Donelan said: "Ofcom really do need to look at this. I was quite shocked and taken aback by the level of the comments made and the response of Dan on that show," she told Sky News' Politics Hub.

"It was completely unacceptable. I'm glad that GB News took decisive action and suspended both of them quickly today, but there needs to be the next stage now and Ofcom really needs to be looking at this."