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.
On Tuesday night’s Wootton’s show, 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?”
GB News said it would suspend Fox with immediate effect, while media regulator Ofcom confirmed it has received “a number of complaints” about Fox’s comments.
There are a number of GB News shows already under investigation by the regulator.
Earlier this month, GB News was found in breach of Ofcom’s broadcasting rules for the third time since it launched in 2021.
Tory MPs Esther McVey and Philip Davies’ show Saturday Morning with Esther and Phil was found to have failed to “ensure due impartiality was preserved”.
Ofcom confirmed that there are currently six further investigations open into other shows.
The full list and the reason for the alleged breaches are as follows:
- Jacob Rees Mogg’s State of the Nation – Politicians as presenters – May 9 2023
- Friday Morning with Esther and Phil – Politicians as presenters – May 12 2023
- Saturday Morning with Esther and Phil – Due impartiality in news/Politicians as presenters – May 13 2023
- Jacob Rees Mogg’s State of the Nation – Politicians as presenters – June 13 2023
- Laurence Fox (presented by Martin Daubney in his absence) – Due impartiality (major matters) - June 16 2023
- The Live Desk (‘Don’t Kill Cash’ campaign) – Licensee expressing views on political issues/due impartiality - July 7 2023
Section 5.3 of the broadcasting code, which focuses on politicians in presenting roles, explains: “No politician may be used as a newsreader, interviewer or reporter in any news programmes unless, exceptionally, it is editorially justified.
“In that case, the political allegiance of that person must be made clear to the audience.”
The issue of politicians as presenters and due impartiality is one which has often been raised by SNP MP John Nicolson.
Following the ruling against McVey and Davies, he told The National: "I'm glad that the media regulator Ofcom has listened to me and ruled against GB News.
"Tory MPs should not be interviewing Tory MPs on a 'news channel'. It's a clear breach of Ofcom's own rules. But why has it taken Ofcom so long to act? Six complaints are still outstanding. Ofcom should focus, investigate speedily and rule on them. These cases aren't complicated."
Specifically, Ofcom took issue with McVey and Davies interviewing Chancellor Jeremy Hunt (below) without reflecting different viewpoints.
It found the programme was “overwhelmingly reflective of the viewpoints of different strands of opinion within the Conservative Party”.
On the investigations which remain live, Ofcom said: “We are working to conclude these investigations as swiftly as possibly in accordance with our published procedures.
“We also have two open investigations into other channels’ compliance with our due impartiality rules (TalkTV and Greatest Hits Radio).
“We are also conducting new qualitative research to gauge current audience attitudes towards programmes which feature politicians as presenters.
“This is being carried out by an expert research agency and we expect to publish the findings in the coming months.”