View all newsletters
Sign up for our free email newsletters

Fighting for quality news media in the digital age.

  1. News
February 23, 2024updated 29 Feb 2024 11:15am

Byline Times, Vorderman and Maitlis face threat of legal action from Dan Wootton

Wootton's lawyer cites privacy precedent from Bloomberg vs ZXC Supreme Court judgment.

By Dominic Ponsford

Dan Wootton is seeking damages, an apology and the retraction of articles from Byline Times after it reported on the fact he was being investigated by police.

Press Gazette understands that Wootton’s legal team is also writing to Carol Vorderman and former Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis over statements made by them on Twitter.

The suspended GB News presenter is also considering legal action against other media outlets over articles published in October last year.

Wootton revealed on Tuesday that two police forces, the Met Police and Police Scotland, had concluded investigations against him and would be taking no further action.

Press Gazette understands Wootton’s lawyer Donal Blaney has written a letter before action to Byline Times over its reporting, citing the Bloomberg versus ZXC Supreme Court judgment of 2022.

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
  • CEO
  • COO
  • CFO
  • CTO
  • Chairperson
  • Non-Exec Director
  • Other C-Suite
  • Managing Director
  • President/Partner
  • Senior Executive/SVP or Corporate VP or equivalent
  • 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 Progressive Media Investments 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.
Thank you

Thanks for subscribing.

This case established the precedent that those at the centre of police investigations have a right to privacy until the point at which they are charged with an offence.

Content from our partners
<a></a>Key ways to futureproof your media career as journalism job cuts bite deep
Slow online ads cost UK publishers £50m a year: Here's how to fix them
Mather Economics and InsurAds combine to help publishers boost revenue

Byline Times reported that Wootton was the subject of a Met Police investigation in October 2023 after the force confirmed to them that it was investigating allegations involving a man in his 40s.

The Guardian, Mirror and Newsquest’s The National also reported on the Wootton investigation in October only to take the stories down after being threatened with legal action by his legal team.

The fact of the police investigation can now be safely reported after Wootton himself put the matter into the public domain.

He said in a statement on Wednesday: “I have now been completely cleared in two investigations by the Metropolitan and Scottish Police, who have confirmed they will be taking no further action.”

He added: “It is high time that all of our ancient rights were once again upheld, chief among them the right to be presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law.”

The Bloomberg versus ZXC case centred on a 2016 report in which Bloomberg named a businessman at a large UK public company accused of involvement in bribery and corruption. The publisher was reporting on the contents of a private letter.

The man won an injunction preventing publication and £25,000 in damages.

The Court of Appeal and Supreme Court held that a person usually has “a reasonable and objectively founded expectation of privacy” over the fact they are a subject of a police investigation.

In 2018 the BBC was ordered to pay Sir Cliff Richard £210,000 in damages and £2m in costs after reporting a police raid on his house.

The Wootton case differs from these two precedents because allegations against him were already in the public domain when the fact of the police investigation was reported.

Byline Times first reported on allegations against Wootton in July 2023.

Wootton then responded on GB News. 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”.

In September 2023, a number of media outlets, including the BBC, reported that Russell Brand was the subject of a police investigation following a Sunday Times/Channel 4 Dispatches investigation into allegations he had committed sexual assaults.

The Met Police did not name Brand but issued a statement that would clearly identify him to anyone who has been following the case.

Topics in this article : , ,

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.
  • Business owner/co-owner
  • CEO
  • COO
  • CFO
  • CTO
  • Chairperson
  • Non-Exec Director
  • Other C-Suite
  • Managing Director
  • President/Partner
  • Senior Executive/SVP or Corporate VP or equivalent
  • 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 Progressive Media Investments 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.
Thank you

Thanks for subscribing.

Websites in our network