The presenter at British broadcaster, GB News, broke a number of major royal exclusives, including the January 2020 story that Harry and Meghan were planning a new life in North America, during his time as a reporter for The Sun.
Harry described Wootton in his book Spare as “a sad little man,” in relation to that story and added that “he’d got everything wrong on his last big ‘exclusive,’” which had been about arguments over Meghan’s wedding day tiara.
Now Wootton has apologized in the face of an investigation by U.K. television regulator Ofcom into comments made by Laurence Fox on his show, which he acknowledged he did not “immediately” challenge.
The host laughed as Fox made sexual comments about female journalist Ava Evans, who later reacted on Twitter by saying: “I feel physically sick.”
“Show me a single, self-respecting man that would like to climb into bed with that woman… ever… ever,” Fox said on Wootton’s GB News show on Tuesday, later adding: “Who’d want to shag that?”
While the backlash was predominantly against Fox, who is known for raging against values he considers to be “woke,” Ofcom will likely also consider Wootton’s role as the interviewer and whether he did enough to challenge his guest. The network suspended Fox and apologized to Evans. Newsweek has contacted GB News.
There is currently no sign of the network suspending Wootton but if it did ever turn its back on the outspoken host, such a move would remove from public debate a major and regular critic of Harry and Meghan.
Wootton issued a lengthy apology on Twitter: “I want to reiterate my regret over last night’s exchange with Laurence on GB News.
“Having looked at the footage, I can see how inappropriate my reaction to his totally unacceptable remarks appears to be and want to be clear that I was in no way amused by the comments.
“I reacted as I did out of shock and surprise in an off-guard moment while working out how to respond as he continued to speak by searching for tweets [Ava Evans] had sent earlier in the day while having them read out in my ear at the same time.
“However, I should have intervened immediately to challenge offensive and misogynistic remarks.
“I apologise unreservedly for what was a very unfortunate lapse in judgement on my part under the intense pressure of a bizarre exchange.”
I want to reiterate my regret over last night’s exchange with Laurence on GB News.Having looked at the footage, I can see how inappropriate my reaction to his totally unacceptable remarks appears to be and want to be clear that I was in no way amused by the comments.I reacted…
— Dan Wootton (@danwootton) September 27, 2023
Over the summer, Wootton was the subject of allegations of sexual offenses that were reported to Metropolitan Police, which have been assessing the information. He denies the allegations and he has remained as a presenter on GB News.
Piers Morgan, who has spoken out against what he considers to be “woke” values many times, wrote on Twitter: “Ava is a very talented journalist and delightful person. Fox is a disgusting piece of misogynist trash.”
Interestingly, Morgan was previously investigated by Ofcom after saying, while a presenter on Good Morning Britain, that he did not trust Meghan’s account of feeling suicidal, as delivered to Oprah Winfrey in her March 2021 interview.
The regulator acknowledged Morgan’s comments were offensive but exonerated the show because other guests challenged his views.
That precedent may not bode well for Wootton who has already acknowledged he should have done more to challenge Fox.
Ofcom’s Piers Morgan ruling read: “[Good Morning Britain] contained statements about suicide and mental health which had the potential to be harmful and highly offensive.
“However, our Decision is that overall the programme contained sufficient challenge to provide adequate protection and context to its viewers.”
By contrast, Wootton appeared to smile and nod as Fox spoke, though he did end the exchange by saying: “She’s a very beautiful woman Laurence, very beautiful.”
That may do little to allay the public backlash over misogyny though it is perhaps the closest Wootton comes to offering GB News the kind of defense used by Good Morning Britain in relation to Morgan.
Ofcom said in a statement: “We can confirm we’ve received a number of complaints about comments made by Laurence Fox on GB News last night.
“We are assessing these complaints against our broadcast rules and will publish the outcome as quickly as possible.”
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Reports at the time suggested that the bride was unhappy after her choice of an emerald tiara from Queen Elizabeth’s collection was rejected. Harry reportedly then told staff that “what Meghan wants, Meghan gets.”