Dan Wootton apologises for ‘unfortunate lapse in judgment’ after Fox comments
By Kerri-Ann Roper and Cormac Pearson, PA
GB News host Dan Wootton has apologised for a “very unfortunate lapse in judgment” after Laurence Fox made a series of “unacceptable” comments about a female journalist on his show.
Following Tuesday night’s Wootton’s show, where Fox made a series of remarks about Ava Evans, the political correspondent for online news site Joe, including asking “Who would want to shag that?”, media regular Ofcom confirmed it has received “a number of complaints” about Fox’s comments.
GB News said it has launched an investigation, branding Fox’s comments “totally unacceptable”, and adding: “What he said does not reflect our values and we apologise unreservedly for the comments and the offence they have caused.”
Ms Evans, a former producer at LBC, shared a clip of the comments on social media site X, formerly known as Twitter, with the caption: “Laurence Fox just did a whole speech on GB News on why men apparently won’t shag me?” which has been viewed more than five million times as of Wednesday morning.
In a follow-up tweet to her nearly 100,000 followers she added that the footage made her feel “physically sick”.
The discussion came after Ms Evans appeared on BBC’s Politics Live on Monday.
On Wednesday morning, Wootton apologised for a “very unfortunate lapse in judgment” in a follow-up post to an earlier apology.
He wrote on X: “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 @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 judgment 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.”
In an earlier message, he had said: “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.”
In a statement to the PA News agency, an Ofcom spokesperson said: “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.”
Fox, whose previous acting credits include Gosford Park and Elizabeth: The Golden Age, told Wootton on Tuesday night: “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 shag that?”
Laughing, Wootton replied: “Well, look, she, I’m just going to provide a touch of balance from her because she did actually respond to this earlier today, saying that she regretted her comments but she didn’t apologise.”
Wootton, a former executive editor at The Sun, added: “And she’s a very beautiful woman, Laurence, very beautiful woman.”
Cabinet minister Lucy Frazer, asked on Wednesday morning if it was unacceptable behaviour, told Times Radio: “Well as Culture Secretary, you will know that I’m generally in favour of the free press.
“And (in) recent days we’ve seen the power of investigative journalism.
“You know, issues like the one you raise are matters for Ofcom and that particular broadcaster, like many others, is regulated by Ofcom.”
Tuesday night’s comments drew a strong reaction on X, with Conservative peer Daniel Finkelstein writing: “Oh my God this is truly appalling. Even for the two individuals involved this was a new low.”
MPs Lee Anderson, Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg, Esther McVey and Philip Davies are among the Tories who host shows on GB News, with Davies condemning the comments.
In a statement to the PA news agency, Mr Davies said: “Laurence Fox’s disgraceful remarks were completely unacceptable, unjustifiable and indefensible.”
Fox, who was previously married to actress Billie Piper, founded the Reclaim Party in October 2020 after an appearance on the BBC’s Question Time earlier that year, which the actor said resulted in him being “cancelled from a 21-year acting career”.
According to its website, the party exists to challenge “woke orthodoxy” and promote “freedom of speech”, which it views as being “under grave peril”.
Fox and Ofcom have been approached for comment.