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'Blood smeared on windscreen' as reporters threatened over Dan Wootton investigation

The executive editor of the Byline Times says journalists have been threatened over reporting of allegations faced by GB News presenter Dan Wootton.

Dan Wootton on Lorraine (ITV)
Dan Wootton has said any claims against him of criminality are 'untrue'. (ITV)

A journalist has had what appears to be blood smeared on their windscreen amid an apparent backlash over their investigation into GB News presenter Dan Wootton, their editor has told Yahoo News.

Peter Jukes, co-founder and executive editor of the Byline Times, says the incident came after one of his reporters was targeted by a phishing email earlier this week, which may have given away their address.

It was followed by an abusive email sent to the newsroom on Saturday night with the subject "Over Dan Wootton", reading: "See you at your office and blood will flow".

On Sunday afternoon, Jukes returned a missed call and was told: "Are you Peter? You're going to regret this."

Jukes, says that while receiving threats is "dark and disturbing", his reporters are not deterred, adding: "It doesn’t stop us, we double our efforts not to be cowered or intimidated."

Yahoo News has seen an image of the suspected blood, discovered on the reporter's windscreen on Friday morning, but has chosen not to publish it for safety reasons.

While Jukes said it "could be a coincidence", the timing of the incident suggests their details could have been found via the hacking attempt.

There is no suggestion that Wootton has any involvement in the threats received by Byline Times journalists, the editor added.

'Witch-hunt'

Wootton has been highly critical of Bylines Times’ reporting since the original allegations emerged and has accused them of having a political agenda to bring down GB News.

On a fundraising page for a legal challenge against the news site, Wootton describes the newspaper as a "hard left blog" on a "deranged campaign of harassment designed to destroy me financially, mentally and professionally".

Responding to the allegations against him directly on his show, the New Zealander said he was the victim of a "witch hunt" by "nefarious players", claiming "dark forces" were attempting to bring down GB News.

Watch: Dan Wootton admits 'errors of judgement' but denies criminality as he addresses allegations

Jukes said in response: “We have pursued this story because of alleged personal behaviours and things we believe are wrong individually in terms of having false identities and catfishing – that has nothing to do with Dan Wootton’s politics, it has nothing to do with his time at GB News, because nearly all of the evidence we have predates that."

Jukes said that followers of GB News have previously targeted him on Twitter and that, on one occasion, when he had been quoted in a tweet by a GB News presenter, he'd "never had such a level of vitriol in all my years on the internet", by supporters of the news site.

Qanon activists rally to show their support for Fox News outside their headquarters in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., November 2, 2020. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Jukes suggested GB News presenters could be appealing to the QAnon crowd with their talk of 'dark forces' and 'nefarious players'. (Reuters)

The Metropolitan Police has confirmed to Yahoo News that it received a report of "malicious communication on 22 July", adding that "enquiries continue". Yahoo News has contacted police regarding the smeared blood.

Wootton, a former executive editor of The Sun, has denied any form of criminal behaviour following allegations that he used a pseudonym and offered colleagues money for sexual material, branding them “simply untrue”.

Read more: Tory MP backs GB News host Dan Wootton after he denies 'criminal allegations'

Former News of the World showbusiness editor, Dan Wootton, arrives to give evidence at the Leveson Inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the media, at the High Court in London February 6, 2012. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett (BRITAIN - Tags: MEDIA CRIME LAW SOCIETY)
Wootton claims he is the victim of a 'smear campaign' and says 'dark forces' are trying to take down GB News. (Reuters)

Responding to the allegations, Wootton admitted making "errors of judgement in the past" on his GB News programme earlier this week, but denied any suggestion he had broken the law.

Addressing the claims, he said: “As a journalist, I feel uncomfortable being the story but I’ve always promised you that this show has no spin and no bias and no censorship so I owe it to you to address this.”

Wootton added: “I, like all fallible human beings, have made errors of judgement in the past but the criminal allegations being made against me are simply untrue.

“I would like nothing more than to address those spurious claims, I could actually spend the next two hours doing so, but on the advice of my lawyers I cannot comment further.”

Wootton is now crowdfunding for a legal challenge against the Byline Times, branding it a "hard left blog" on a "deranged campaign of harassment designed to destroy me financially, mentally and professionally".

A DMG media spokesperson said: “We are aware of the allegations and are looking into them.”

A spokesperson for News UK, publisher of The Sun, said: “We are looking into the allegations made in recent days. We are not able to make any further comment at this stage.”

When asked earlier this week about the allegations faced by Wootton, the Met said: "In June 2023, the Metropolitan Police was contacted with regards to allegations of sexual offences committed by a man.

“Officers are assessing information to establish whether any criminal offence has taken place. There is no police investigation at this time.”

This article was updated on 4 August, 2023 and again on 28 February, 2024 with the following: Yahoo understands that the Met Police and Police Scotland have investigated the allegations against Mr Wootton. In February 2024, both concluded that no further action was necessary.