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July 19, 2023

Dan Wootton allegations get widespread coverage after he responds on GB News

Wootton told GB News viewers "the criminal allegations being made against me are simply untrue".

By Charlotte Tobitt

Allegations made against GB News presenter Dan Wootton have received a wider airing after he used his show to deny any criminal wrongdoing on Tuesday night.

In a six-minute monologue, Wootton told GB News viewers he had made “errors of judgment in the past” but that “criminal allegations being made against me are simply untrue”.

An ex-partner of Wootton first made allegations about him on social media last week. On Monday, Byline Times became the first outlet to publish claims centring around alleged payments to individuals for explicit images.

The first publisher to follow up the story almost 24 hours later was The Guardian, whose media editor Jim Waterson said he had been investigating the story for “several years”.

Wootton’s statement on Tuesday night opened the way for many other news publishers to carefully cover the allegations and his denial, including: BBC News, Sky News, ITV News, The Telegraph, the Mirror, the Express, The Independent, the i, and the Evening Standard. GB News itself ran a story headlined: “Dan Wootton fights back tears as he denies ‘smear campaign’ allegations – ‘Trying to destroy my life’.”

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However, Wootton’s two other major employers past and present appeared to stay clear of the story. Mail Online, where Wootton has been a columnist since 2021, and The Sun, where he was previously editor of the Bizarre showbiz column and then an executive editor, have not reported on either the allegations or his response.

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Both publishers have, however, said they are looking into what has been alleged.

[Update: MPs ask Sun editor for answers over Huw Edwards reporting and Dan Wootton allegations]

A spokesperson for Mail publisher DMG Media said: “We are aware of the allegations and are looking into them.”

And a spokesperson for Sun publisher News UK said: “We are looking into the allegations made in recent days. We are not able to make any further comment at this stage.”

Before Wootton made his statement, there had been criticism of publishers who had stayed away from the story. Ex-Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger tweeted: “Given the hyperventilating coverage of Philip [sic] Schofield and Huw Edwards it seems unusual that there is barely a squeak of interest from media outlets about #DanWoottonExposed.”

Meanwhile, the actor John Cleese, himself a GB News presenter, tweeted that the “mainstream press must check this story out” and that if they do not, it would be “proof of their complete corruption”. Cleese has been a long-time supporter of Byline.

What did Dan Wootton say about the allegations on GB News?

Opening his show on Tuesday, Wootton said: “As a journalist I feel uncomfortable being the story, but I’ve always promised you that this show has no spin and no bias and no censorship so I owe it to you to address this. As you probably don’t know – hopefully you don’t know, because you’re not insane enough to pay attention to the cesspit of social media – these past few days I have been the target of a smear campaign by nefarious players with an axe to grind.”

Wootton made his own allegations against an ex-partner before continuing that the story had been reported by “an organisation who are intent on closing down this channel. Whose reporters include a convicted phone hacker,” apparently referring to ex-Sunday Mirror and News of the World journalist Dan Evans who was one of two writers on the Byline story alongside former News of the World journalist Tom Latchem. “The Guardian has also reported it tonight, what a surprise,” he added.

Wootton continued: “I, like all fallible human beings, have made errors of judgment in the past. But the criminal allegations being made against me are simply untrue.

“I would like nothing more than to address those spurious claims – I could actually spend the next two hours doing so – but on the advice of my lawyers, I cannot comment further.

“But I have been thinking much over the past few days about the current state of social media where any allegation can be made in an attempt to get someone cancelled but it is impossible to defend yourself against thousands of trolls.

“That said, I am coming on air tonight with a lot of humility too. I think being in the middle of this witch hunt has made me think a lot about the kind of journalist and broadcaster I aspire to be. One focused on the massive political threats facing this country, not on personal attacks. I mean, who doesn’t have regrets? Should I be cancelled for them many years later? Or do you accept that I have learned and changed?

“The last few years, I’ve grown professionally and personally and I’ve also found the meaning of true love… I’ve found happiness in my personal life with my wonderful boyfriend who is here tonight. My friends and family are my world. The toll that this has taken on their mental health, well, that is literally killing me to watch.

“There is a reason why I have since day one on this show had a segment that is called ‘uncancelled’. Because our rush to judge before due process, thanks in my case to the mad ramblings of highly politicised Twitter trolls and revolting blogs that eschew basic journalistic standards, is destroying democracy.

“And that’s why, by the way, I didn’t say a word about Huw Edwards. Not one word. No tweet was deleted by me… I didn’t know the facts, and I wasn’t going to weigh in until I did.

“I do also note that there are dark forces out to try and take this brilliant channel down,” he went on, referring to the closure of Nigel Farage’s bank account, Patrick Christys’ temporary Twitter suspension, and other recent incidents involving GB News presenters.

“We have all found ourselves under attack. And that’s because GB News is the biggest threat to the establishment in decades and they’ll stop at nothing to destroy us. But we will keep fighting for you because we are a family here. You have been here since day one on what has been a life-changing experience for me and we have each other’s back. The way you have understood what’s been happening these last few days,  and I’ve seen it, I’ve seen your messages, I’ve seen what you’ve had to say and that has meant the world to me.

“I recognise I’m a polarising figure and by speaking out in this way I’m opening the gates of hell on my life. But social media has become a race to the bottom. Pile-ons are now the way to cancel a person. Our country is better than that – we must be, we must be, and that’s why GB News exists.

“What we’re trying to do here is something different. To give a voice to the long-forgotten people of the United Kingdom. And a great man reminded me today: people don’t follow you because you’re right, they follow you because you’re real. So thank you for your support and the support of GB News.”

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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.
  • Business owner/co-owner
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  • Senior Executive/SVP or Corporate VP or equivalent
  • Director or equivalent
  • Group or Senior Manager
  • Head of Department/Function
  • Manager
  • Non-manager
  • Retired
  • Other
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