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  1. Media Law
October 3, 2023updated 04 Oct 2023 9:37am

Guardian and Mirror take down Dan Wootton story after legal warning

Publishers threatened with exemplary damages and punitive costs.

By Dominic Ponsford

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.

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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.

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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.

Wootton was suspended by GB News and sacked as a columnist at Mail Online last week after Laurence Fox launched a sexist on-air tirade against the journalist Ava Evans on his programme.

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”.

Email pged@pressgazette.co.uk to point out mistakes, provide story tips or send in a letter for publication on our "Letters Page" blog

Select and enter your email address Weekly insight into the big strategic issues affecting the future of the news industry. Essential reading for media leaders every Thursday. Your morning brew of news about the world of news from Press Gazette and elsewhere in the media. Sent at around 10am UK time. Our weekly does of strategic insight about the future of news media aimed at US readers. A fortnightly update from the front-line of news and advertising. Aimed at marketers and those involved in the advertising industry.
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  • Director or equivalent
  • Group or Senior Manager
  • Head of Department/Function
  • Manager
  • Non-manager
  • Retired
  • Other
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
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