Dan Wootton has been suspended from GB News following remarks made by Laurence Fox on the broadcaster’s show about a female journalist which have been described as “unacceptable, unjustifiable and indefensible”.
Speaking on Tuesday during an appearance on Dan Wootton Tonight, actor-turned-politician 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?”
“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.
During the exchange, Wootton was heard laughing following actor-turned-politician Fox saying 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?”
His comments drew strong reactions, with Conservative MP Philip Davies, who hosts a show on GB News, saying in a statement to the PA news agency: “Laurence Fox’s disgraceful remarks were completely unacceptable, unjustifiable and indefensible.”
MPs Lee Anderson, Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg and Esther McVey are among the Tories who host shows on GB News.
Fox and Wootton had held the discussion following former LBC producer Ms Evans appearing on BBC’s Politics Live on Monday, where she was asked about a newspaper’s headline – Sunak urged to appoint minister for men.
She expressed her view that the idea “feeds into the culture war a little bit” and mental illness is a “crisis that’s endemic throughout the country, not specific to men and I think a lot of ministers bandy this about to – I’m sorry – make an enemy out of women”.
Ms Evans later apologised on social media site X, formerly known as Twitter, for her comments, saying she was “a little rash on my anti-minister for men comments which I do regret and am actually very interested in a brief for a minister on young men’s mental health”.
Following the GB News programme, she shared a clip of Fox’s comments on her X social media handle, @AvaSantina, and also said the footage made her feel “physically sick”.
She also said: “I was getting calls up until one o’clock in the morning, voicemails… I don’t want to hear from him. This is actually nothing to do with me.
“This is a network problem, this is a presenter, guest, gallery, production issue that is nothing to do with me. I just so happen to be the person they’re talking about but I’m not in the conversation… It’s not to do with me and that’s what makes me feel most sick about it.”
She later told the BBC Newscast podcast she had received an apology from GB News, but had not decided whether to accept it, adding: “Let’s just see how the investigation goes.”
Ms Evans 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.”
His representative declined to comment on the broadcaster’s suspension.
After the show, GB News described Fox’s comments as “totally unacceptable”, adding: “What he said does not reflect our values and we apologise unreservedly for the comments and the offence they have caused.”
Wootton apologised on X saying that after looking at the clip, he 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 said: “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.
“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.”
Sharing Wootton’s statement on X, Fox posted messages which appeared to suggest they were between himself and the presenter featuring laughing emojis.
Posting the dialogue, Fox wrote above the conversation: “Honesty is the best policy.”
The exchange began by saying: “Making you giggle is my weekly joy.”
And then a response which said: “You can imagine them freaking out in the gallery!!!!!”
Fox also claimed in the series of tweets that he had done a “pre interview” with the channel “so they knew exactly what I intended to say”.
Fox, 45, whose previous acting credits include Gosford Park and Elizabeth: The Golden Age, tweeted that he stands “by every word of what I said” to his more than 400,000 followers.
The Lewis star, who was previously married to actress Billie Piper, founded the Reclaim Party in October 2020 after an appearance on the BBC’s news panel show 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”.
In a statement to the PA news agency, an Ofcom spokesman 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.”