The Guardian, Mirror, various other Reach sites and Newsquest’s The National have all removed stories after a legal warning made by a lawyer acting for Dan Wootton.
The Guardian’s story was published at 11.25pm on Monday night (2 October) and other sites appear to have referenced that article. The articles have since been taken down.
Links for each of the news stories that have been removed now return an error code alongside their original URLs, and the publishers have yet to explain why they decided to withdraw the story.
A Guardian Media Group spokesperson said: “Following a review, the article has been taken down.”
Press Gazette understands that a lawyer acting for Wootton has warned publishers about possible legal action.
The outcome of a court case could be aggravated and/or exemplary damages and an order to pay both sides’ legal fees, the lawyer warned.
The high potential cost of defending legal actions was underlined when the Mail on Sunday faced a £1.5m costs bill after the Duchess of Sussex successfully sued it following the publication of a letter to her father.
The Sun is currently investigating what has been described by MP Caroline Dinenage as allegations involving “payments for sexual material” that date back to Wootton’s time as showbiz editor of the paper.
Wootton raised £35,000 via the crowdfunding site Democracy 3.0 to fund threatened legal action against Byline Times, the website that first reported the allegations. The fundraiser was taken down following Wootton’s suspension by GB News.
Speaking on his GB News programme in July, Wootton admitted to “errors of judgement in the past” but said that “criminal allegations being made against me are simply untrue”. Byline Times said it has passed a dossier of evidence to the Met Police.
Wootton said he has been “the target of a smear campaign by nefarious players with an axe to grind”.
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