Update, 28/9/23: DMG Media has ended Dan Wootton’s contract with Mail Online following his suspension on Wednesday from GB News.
His column had already been paused by DMG Media in August while it investigated allegations about his conduct first published by Byline Times. Wootton has admitted to “errors of judgement” but denies any criminal wrongdoing.
Wootton was suspended by GB News this week after fellow host Laurence Fox appeared on his primetime programme and made “totally unacceptable” comments about a female journalist, Ava Evans.
A spokesperson for DMG Media said on Thursday: “Following events this week, DMG Media can confirm that Dan Wootton’s freelance column with Mail Online – which had already been paused – has now been terminated, along with his contract.”
Shortly after DMG Media’s statement was published, Ofcom announced it was launching an investigation into Tuesday’s episode of Dan Wootton Tonight under its rules on offence.
Original story, 3/8/23: Dan Wootton’s Mail Online column has been paused while allegations made against him are investigated.
The allegations, published in a series of stories by independent outlet Byline Times, include claims around payments for explicit images and videos and others in relation to alleged behaviour while working at The Sun.
Wootton has denied any criminal wrongdoing although he has admitted to “errors of judgment in the past”.
A spokesperson for DMG Media, which publishes Mail Online, told Press Gazette on Thursday: “We are continuing to consider a series of allegations which Dan Wootton – who has written columns for Mail Online since 2021 as one of several outside freelance contributors – has strenuously denied.
“The allegations are obviously serious but also complex and historic and there is an independent investigation underway at the media group which employed him during the relevant period.
“In the meantime, his freelance column with Mail Online has been paused.”
Wootton’s last column for Mail Online was published on 29 June.
Wootton joined Mail Online in 2021 at the same time as being hired as a presenter on GB News. He hosts Dan Wootton Tonight, promising “no spin, no bias, no censorship”, on Mondays to Thursdays at 9pm and it was on this show that he first addressed the allegations just over two weeks ago. GB News has not yet made any comment about the allegations and Wootton continues to present that show.
The Sun investigating Dan Wootton allegations
Before moving to GB News and Mail Online, Wootton worked at The Sun from 2013 in roles including executive editor, editor of the Bizarre showbiz column, head of showbiz and associate editor for showbiz and TV.
The Sun was asked by MPs last week to explain what it was doing to investigate the allegations against Wootton during his time at the company. He also worked for former sister title the News of the World until its closure in 2011.
Sun editor Victoria Newton said in response: “We take these allegations seriously but we are in no position to comment further and indeed we make no commitment to make any further comment depending on the outcome of our investigation.” The publisher has appointed law firm Kingsley Napley to investigate the allegations.
Wootton has called the allegations “defamatory and untrue” and raised £38,000 since launching a crowdfunding page on 21 July with the apparent aim of bringing a legal action against Byline.
Byline, in turn, has raised £54,000 in about the same timescale to cover the costs of its reporting.
Press Gazette understands that Wootton has new legal representation after previously using Mishcon de Reya, which is understood to have sent legal memos cautioning media organisations about repeating allegations aired by Byline Times. He is now being represented by Griffin Law, according to Byline Times co-founder Peter Jukes.
Griffin Law’s founder Donal Blaney previously reportedly helped journalist Isabel Oakeshott secure a five-figure sum from The Guardian over a “sexist slur”. Oakeshott and Guido Fawkes have described him as the “rottweiler of the right”.
Update 4 August: The Guardian last night quoted Wootton’s lawyer: “For the avoidance of further doubt, our client did not at any time contact current or former colleagues at the Sun with offers of money in return for sexually explicit images, he did not engage in inappropriate behaviour in the workplace, and he did not misuse News UK funds.”
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