Laurence Fox suspended by GB News over comments on Dan Wootton show

Laurence Fox suspended by GB News over comments on Dan Wootton show

Laurence Fox has been formally suspended by GB News and taken off air immediately following comments he made on air about a female journalist which have been described as “unacceptable, unjustifiable and indefensible”.

Speaking on Tuesday night during an appearance on Dan Wootton’s show, Fox made a series of remarks about Ava Evans, the political correspondent for online news site Joe, including asking: “Who would want to shag that?”

GB News said on Wednesday morning in a statement on X, formerly Twitter: “GB News has formally suspended Laurence Fox while we continue our investigation into comments he made on the channel last night.

“Mr Fox’s suspension is effective immediately and he has been taken off air. We will be apologising formally to Ms Evans today.”

Reacting to Fox’s remarks, Evans told Channel 5’s Jeremy Vine show that she was “really hurt” and “shocked” that the segment was broadcast following her saying that she would “rather be judged or asked” about her work than body.

She also said: “Do you know this is the sort of talk that you worry that men have about you when you’re not in the room. There is always sort of a worry in the back of your mind which is: ‘Are people actually interested in what I’m saying or what I’m doing?’

“Or are they just looking at me… physically and I think that that clip proves that there are some men who are.”

Responding to the backlash over his comments, Fox said he stands “by every word of what I said” and writing on X told his more than 400,000 followers that people should not “take a pop” at Wootton and added: “I stand by every word of what I said.

“If a woman wants to go on television and belittle male suicide, she is totally within her rights to do so and not apologise, just as I am totally within my rights to say that I wouldn’t want to shag a hyper offended 4th wave feminist and not apologise, just as people are totally within their rights to be offended by my stating I would run a mile in the opposite direction from women like her, should our paths cross in a bar.

“It’s called free speech.”

Adding that “the new woke world is low on laughter and high on offence”, he said it was still worth “trying to find the lighter moments in this joyless new cancel culture which has been created for us”.

In a long post, Fox continued: “So you keep trying to cancel away in your state of permanent offence, I’ve been cancelled already and may well be again, but I don’t care one bit, and I will keep defending my right to have an opinion on issues which concern me.

“Without free speech and the presumption of innocence we are not free. We aren’t quite communist Eastern Europe yet. We may very close, but not quite there. It’s still worth fighting for.”

So if you are expecting a grovelling apology, I suggest you don’t hold your breath. I won’t ever apologise to the mob.”

Signing off the message he said: “In this self censoring world, speak your mind. Live strong and free.”

Following his suspension, he followed this post up with claiming he had done a “pre interview” with the channel “so they knew exactly what I intended to say”.

While sharing a screenshot which appeared to look like an exchange about news stories he was being asked to comment on, Fox wrote: “A phone call might have been polite.”

After the show, GB News said it has launched an investigation, branding Fox’s comments “totally unacceptable”, and adding: “What he said does not reflect our values and we apologise unreservedly for the comments and the offence they have caused.”

The show’s host Wootton apologised in a follow-up post to an earlier apology, writing on X: “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 @AvaSantina had sent earlier in the day while having them read out in my ear at the same time.”

He added: “I apologise unreservedly for what was a very unfortunate lapse in judgment on my part under the intense pressure of a bizarre exchange. I know I should have done better. I’m devastated that I let down the team and our supportive GBN family.

“We seek to tackle the issue and not the person, which I intend to stress again on air tonight.”

Sharing Wootton’s statement on X, Fox posted messages which appeared to suggest they were between himself and the presenter featuring laughing emojis.

Posting the dialogue, Fox wrote above the conversation: “Honesty is the best policy.”

The exchange began saying: “Making you giggle is my weekly joy.”

And then a response which said: “You can imagine them freaking out in the gallery!!!!!”

Ms Evans, a former producer at LBC, shared a clip of the comments on social media site X, formerly known as Twitter, where her handle is @AvaSantina, with the caption: “Laurence Fox just did a whole speech on GB News on why men apparently won’t shag me?” which has been viewed more than five million times as of Wednesday morning.

In a follow-up tweet to her nearly 100,000 followers she added that the footage made her feel “physically sick”.

The discussion on GB News came after Ms Evans had appeared on BBC’s Politics Live on Monday where she was a guest alongside comedian and commentator Geoff Norcott.

The show’s host referenced a newspaper report from earlier in the month with the headline ‘Sunak urged to appoint minister for men’ and during the discussion Ms Evans expressed her view that the “minister for men” argument “feeds into the culture war a little bit”.

She added that mental illness is a “crisis that’s endemic throughout the country, not specific to men. And I think a lot of ministers bandy this about to – I’m sorry – make an enemy out of women.”

She later apologised on X for her comments saying she was “a little rash on my anti-minister for men comments which I do regret and am actually very interested in a brief for a minister on young men’s mental health.”

Tuesday night’s comments drew strong reactions, with Conservative MP Philip Davies, who hosts a show on GB News, saying in a statement to the PA News agency: “Laurence Fox’s disgraceful remarks were completely unacceptable, unjustifiable and indefensible.”

MPs Lee Anderson, Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg and Esther McVey are among the Tories who host shows on GB News.

In a statement to the PA News agency, an Ofcom spokesperson said: “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.”

Fox, whose previous acting credits include Gosford Park and Elizabeth: The Golden Age, told Wootton on Tuesday night: “We’re past the watershed so I can say this: show me a single self-respecting man that would like to climb into bed with that woman, ever, ever, who wasn’t an incel?

“That little woman has been fed, spoon-fed oppression day after day after day… starting with the lie of the gender wage gap, and she’s sat there and I’m going, if I met you in a bar and that was like sentence three, chances of me just walking away are just huge.

“We need powerful, strong, amazing women who make great points for themselves, we don’t need these sort of feminist 4.0… they’re pathetic and embarrassing. Who would want to shag that?”

Laughing, Wootton replied: “Well, look, she, I’m just going to provide a touch of balance from her because she did actually respond to this earlier today, saying that she regretted her comments but she didn’t apologise.”

Wootton, a former executive editor at The Sun, added: “And she’s a very beautiful woman, Laurence, very beautiful woman.”

Fox, who was previously married to actress Billie Piper, founded the Reclaim Party in October 2020 after an appearance on the BBC’s Question Time earlier that year, which the actor said resulted in him being “cancelled from a 21-year acting career”.

According to its website, the party exists to challenge “woke orthodoxy” and promote “freedom of speech”, which it views as being “under grave peril”.