street of shame

Desperate Dan
Dan Wootton , Issue 1619

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Dan Wootton is in the clear with police, but the Sun is still investigating its former showbiz hack’s actions
EVENTFUL times in what used to be called the career of Dan Wootton.

On 22 February the shamed presenter used the news that neither the Metropolitan Police nor Police Scotland would be pursing criminal investigations into him to announce that he had been "completely cleared".

An internal investigation at his former employer, the Sun, meanwhile, has yet to conclude. It is attempting to establish whether Wootton was – as several former colleagues and contacts are convinced – the mysterious figure who used pseudonyms to persuade them to share sexually explicit videos and images of themselves.

Lurid claims
As Wootton made clear in an extraordinary six-minute address to camera at the start of his GB News show last September as lurid claims about his behaviour beyond what had been reported in the press were circulating online (Eye 1603), he was prepared to 'fess up to "errors of judgement in the past", but insisted that "criminal allegations that have been made against me are simply untrue".

Wootton used the same monologue to declare of a former partner who had been quoted in the media: "I have been forced to report his behaviour and threats to police and they are now investigating."

Legal scrap
His lawyers are now, however, threatening legal action against media outlets and high-profile individuals on social media who reported in October, ahead of Wootton's own confirmation of the fact, that police were investigating him. Wootton has already extracted apologies and "significant" payouts from the Guardian and the Mirror.

His claim is based on the legal precedent set in cases including those of Cliff Richard v BBC and ZXC v Bloomberg, that people who are the subject of criminal investigations but have not yet been charged have a right to privacy.

That's not an issue that appeared to detain Wootton during his days as a showbiz correspondent on the News of the World and the Sun, or as a columnist at MailOnline, where in February last year he complained: "Usually in the hours after a true but unflattering story has been published about the Duke or Duchess of Sussex, journalists are braced for the predictable and inevitable legal threat or whiny statement about some sort of horrific intrusion into their lives."

Channel hop
Act two of the drama came a few days later, when GB News, having suspended Wootton in September after he chortled his way gleefully through a misogynistic rant by guest Laurence Fox on his show (Eye 1608), declared the end of an "internal employment process" which allowed its former star presenter to say he had "left" the channel.

Bosses, who prefer the phrasing "Dan is no longer employed by GB News", used this as an opportunity to provide broadcasting watchdog Ofcom, at the very last minute on 1 March, with a wealth of extra evidence.

It insisted that this showed the presenter, not GB News, was responsible for the failure to broadcast an on-air apology for the incident during the show in question, and had "outright refused" to read it from the autocue.

Fox on the box
The watchdog's full ruling – stating that it has "significant concerns about GB News's editorial control of its live output" and requiring channel bosses to report to the headmaster's office immediately for a ticking-off, was published three days later. It included Wootton's own claim, "made on his behalf by his solicitors", that he had failed to speak up on the programme because "he was worried that if he reprimanded Mr Fox live on-air it could have turned into an 'uncomfortable exchange'".

This brave warrior is now promising to launch his own independent online platform, Dan Wootton Outspoken, which he promises will "truly stand for freedom of expression" and be "a crusade for free speech".

This is a career course previously followed by other figures who have found themselves suddenly too, er, "controversial" for mainstream media, such as ex-Fox News man Tucker Carlson or Wootton's fellow former Sun columnists Katie Hopkins, Kelvin MacKenzie and Jon Gaunt.

Father figure
By coincidence, Fox – sacked outright by GB News after the incident on Wootton's show – chose the same day to announce he is also launching an unregulated online show, Fox & Father.

It will be co-presented not by his actual father James Fox (an actor who can actually still get on proper TV), but by his fellow GB News sackee Calvin Robinson, who has now defected from the Free Church of England (Eyes passim) to an even more obscure sect, the Nordic Catholic Church, which allows him to call himself "Father" and wear even prettier frocks while espousing his rabidly right-wing views.

To read all these stories in full, please buy issue 1619 of Private Eye - you can subscribe here and have the magazine delivered to your home every fortnight.

Next issue on sale: 24th April 2024

More top stories in the latest issue:

The Sun is slowly beginning its shift of allegiances that will enable it to say "It was the Sun wot won it" come a Labour victory in the general election.

The Mail titles have suffered another setback in their upcoming court case against Prince Harry, Doreen Lawrence, Elton John, Liz Hurley and others.

Reach plc is recycling material from its own back catalogues managing to keep up the output of clickbait on its shonky websites, including the Express.

The Sun was caught with its pants down last week over its exclusive on a pledge by "party girl Carrie Royale" to publish naked photos of Prince Harry.

The withdrawal by several photo agencies of THAT manipulated royal photo came disastrously late for Monday morning's papers.

Jeremy Hunt's abolition of the non-dom tax break managed to protect the generally Tory-supporting non-doms, including certain press barons…

The Guardian has launched a frothy weekly newsletter devoted to pop star Taylor Swift and accidentally sent it to thousands of po-faced readers.

The Sun's leader column raged against "the gambling crackdown proposed by the government" – without mentioning its own reliance on the betting industry.

The Mail has launched a new podcast, 'Straight to the Comments', whose name and content both bear a strong resemblance to those of an independent podcast.

Pipe down
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The leaking out of EDF's nuclear projects
In The Back, Issue 1621
Red flags
Red flags
More trouble for Labour
News, Issue 1621
Dan's flaws
Dan's flaws
Mixed news for shamed Dan Wootton
Street Of Shame, Issue 1619
Private Eye Issue 1619
In This Issue
Mr Read versus the Post Office… Pope declares Devil victorious and urges humanity to run up white flag… Deirdre’s Photo Romance Casebook… US steps up aid with delivery of thousands of missiles… Nursery Times: What is wrong with the princess?… Meet the dashing military hunks the royals can’t live without… Nikki Haley ‘didn’t commit enough crimes’… The Duke and Duchess of York’s selected letters, as told to Craig Brown.

Belize and thank you
Slicker on the tax arrangements of Lord Ashcroft

Drax vs facts
Is the tide turning against tree-burning power stations?

Photo finish
The cracked relationships behind the royal portrait storm

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24th April 2024
Private Eye Issue 1618