The regulator Ofcom has been urged to look into GB News after what a Cabinet minister described as 'unacceptable' behaviour by Dan Wootton and Laurence Fox, as ITV News Correspondent Geraint Vincent reports
GB News has suspended Dan Wootton following comments made on his programme by Laurence Fox, which have been described as “unacceptable, unjustifiable and indefensible”.
The channel is currently investigating the comments by Fox, which were made about female journalist Ava Evans during a broadcast on Tuesday.
In a statement on Wednesday, the channel 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.” Wootton has apologised for the remarks, saying he “regretted” the interview, while a Cabinet minister has demanded regulators look into the channel after the "unacceptable and disgraceful" on-air behaviour of the two presenters.
Fox - who said he "stands by every word" - made a series of remarks about Ms Evans during an episode of Dan Wootton Tonight.
Ms Evans, a political correspondent for the online news site Joe, said she felt "sick" and described feeling like a "commodity".
During the exchange, Wootton was heard laughing following actor-turned-politician Fox saying: “We’re past the watershed so I can say this: show me a single self-respecting man that would like to climb into bed with that woman, ever, ever, who wasn’t an incel? “That little woman has been fed, spoon-fed oppression day after day after day… starting with the lie of the gender wage gap, and she’s sat there and I’m going, if I met you in a bar and that was like sentence three, chances of me just walking away are just huge. “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 would want to sh*g that?”
Ms Evans, after initially saying she hadn't received an apology, told the BBC Newscast podcast on Wednesday: "I’ve had my apology from GB News, which I was waiting for all day.
“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.”
'This is actually nothing to do with me. This is a producer, presenter problem. This is a network problem' - Ava Santina responds to Laurence Fox's comments
Wootton and Fox have both been suspended by the broadcaster while it has confirmed a "full investigation" is taking place.
In a statement posted to X shortly after the broadcast on Tuesday, GB News said: “Comments made tonight on GB News by Laurence Fox were totally unacceptable.
“What he said does not reflect our values and we apologise unreservedly for the comments and the offence they have caused. We have launched an investigation and will be apologising to the individual involved.”
In a message to Ms Evans on X, host Dan Wootton said: “I think you’re brilliant… I apologise for what was said during the course of my show and should have done this immediately on air. This is not what our channel is about."
Meanwhile, 45-year-old Fox responded to the backlash with a lengthy statement on his social media channels in which he told his followers: "If you are expecting a groveling apology, I suggest you don’t hold your breath. I won’t ever apologise to the mob".
His discussion with Wootton came after Ms Evans appeared on BBC’s Politics Live on Monday and spoke about calls for a minister for men. k
Fox's comments sparked outrage from many, including Technology Secretary Michelle Donelan who urged Ofcom to look into GB News. The Conservative MP hit out at the “unacceptable and disgraceful way” the men behaved while discussing a female journalist and said she was "taken aback by the level" of the comments.
Tory MP Caroline Nokes similarly urged Ofcom to swiftly investigate what she called the “blatantly misogynistic” comments. The chair of the Commons Women and Equalities Committee told BBC Newsnight: “I thought it was absolutely abhorrent. “GB News purports to be a serious news broadcaster yet here you have two men belittling, demeaning, seeking to humiliate a female journalist. “One of them making a truly offensive comment and then laughing about it. Clearly GB News has taken action, we wait to see if that sticks. “I was appalled by a news channel broadcasting such blatantly misogynistic outdated hideous attitudes. “I think there is a really serious case to answer and I hope that Ofcom can conclude its investigations as swiftly as possible.”
Ms Evans told Channel 5's Jeremy Vine she was "really hurt" by the comments made about her "body rather than her work," and is "shocked that it went out".
She said on Wednesday: "Do you know 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 also said: “I’m actually a journalist rather than a commentator and I’d much rather be judged or asked about my work… than have people talking about my body.”
'This is the sort of talk that you worry that men have about you when you’re not in the room' - Ava Santina gives her reaction to Jeremy Vine on Wednesday
Wootton took to social media again on Wednesday morning to apologise for the "bizarre exchange", calling it a "very unfortunate lapse in judgement on my part".
In a post on X, he wrote: "I want to reiterate my regret over last night’s exchange with Laurence on GB News.
"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.
"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 Ava 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. I'm devastated that I let down the team and our supportive GBN family. We seek to tackle the issue and not the person, which I intend to stress again on air tonight."
Wootton said via his lawyer, ahead of the news of his suspension, that “he remains sincere in his desire to apologise personally” to Ms Evans and he “respects her wishes” if she does not want to be contacted. His representative declined to comment on the broadcaster’s suspension.
An Ofcom spokesperson told ITV News: "We can confirm we've received a number of complaints about comments made by Laurence Fox on GB News last night.
"We are assessing these complaints against our broadcast rules and will publish the outcome as quickly as possible."
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