GB News has suspended presenter Laurence Fox over comments he made on air about a female journalist which have been described as “unacceptable, unjustifiable and indefensible”.
Fox appeared on Dan Wootton Tonight on Tuesday to speak about Politics Joe reporter Ava Evans’ reaction to a debate about mens’ mental health on the BBC earlier in the day.
During the segment, Fox made a series of remarks about Evans, including asking: “Who would want to shag that?”
Wootton, who has also been suspended, and GB News apologised after the show but Fox’s show has now been taken off air while an investigation takes place.
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.
— GB News (@GBNEWS) September 27, 2023
GB News added in a statement: “Mr Fox’s suspension is effective immediately and he has been taken off air. We will be apologising formally to Ms Evans today.”
Ofcom has started an investigation into Tuesday’s episode of Dan Wootton Tonight after receiving around 7,300 complaints, the regulator said on Thursday.
The investigation adds to the other six already underway with the channel.
Yahoo News UK breaks down those investigations…
Laurence Fox suspended: Read more
Journalist Ava Evans responds to Laurence Fox’s ‘vile’ GB News rant (The Independent)
1. Jacob Rees-Mogg’s State of the Nation, 9 May 2023
Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg presents his State of the Nation show four nights a week on GB News.
Two episodes of the show are currently being investigated but Ofcom – the first of which was broadcast on 9 May this year.
There were 40 complaints made to Ofcom about the programme, which featured coverage of a civil trial that decided former US president Donald Trump sexually abused and defamed magazine writer E Jean Carroll.
Currently, Ofcom’s broadcasting code states that no politician can be used as a “newsreader, interviewer or reporter” in order to preserve impartiality.
However, politicians are allowed to present current affairs programmes, so long as they make sure a variety of views are represented and that the programmes are hosted outside of election periods.
Ofcom are investigating whether Rees-Mogg broke this rule.
2. Friday Morning with Esther and Phil, 12 May 2023
Tory MPs Esther McVey and Philip Davies, who are also husband and wife, present shows on GB News at the end of the week.
Ofcom’s ‘politicians as presenters’ rule is once again being investigated in relation to this episode of the show after the couple held a discussion about a teenager who was being sentenced for terrorism offences.
Like Rees-Mogg, Ofcom are investigating whether the topic was part of a current affairs discussion or if it was being reported by them as news.
3. Saturday Morning with Esther and Phil, 13 May 2023
Ofcom are also investigating the MPs for their Saturday show, which was broadcast one day after the show that is also being investigated.
During the programme the couple interviewed Howard Cos, who is standing the candidate for London mayor for the Reform UK party.
Cox, who is standing on an anti-Ulez platform, was speaking live from a protest against the scheme.
Ofcom are investigating whether McVey and Davies broke the ‘politicians as presenters’ rule – but also assessing the programme’s compliance with the broadcasting rule which requires that “news, in whatever form, must be presented with due impartiality”.
4. Jacob Rees-Mogg’s State of the Nation, 13 June 2023
The second of Ofcom’s investigations into Rees-Mogg’s show centres on a broadcast in June which covered a stabbing incident in Nottingham.
It is another case of the media watchdog deciding whether the ‘politicians as presenters’ rule was breached.
Ofcom’s code states that as well as politicians not being used as a newsreader, interviewer or reporter unless editorially justified, the political allegiance of the presenter must be made clear to the audience.
5. Laurence Fox (presented by Martin Daubney in his absence), 16 June 2023
GB News presenter Martin Daubney stood in for Fox on an episode of the programme in June.
In it, Daubney interviewed Reform UK leader Richard Tice – who was also the former deputy leader of the Brexit Party, of which Daubney was an MEP.
The interview included a discussion about immigration and asylum policy, particularly in relation to the issue of small boats crossing the English Channel.
This episode is being probed in relation to the broadcasting rule which requires that due impartiality “is preserved on matters of major political or industrial controversy or those relating to current public policy and that an appropriately wide range of significant views are included and given due weight”, Ofcom said.
6. The Live Desk (Don’t Kill Cash campaign), 7 July 2023
Earlier this year, GB News launched their Don’t Kill Cash campaign, which sought to garner support for a petition to not let the UK become what it calls a “cashless society”.
While campaigns such as these are often run by British newspapers, broadcasters in the country are banned from doing so under the terms of their Ofcom licence.
As a result, the watchdog launched an investigation into an episode of The Live Desk, that will decide if the show broke rules that forbid broadcasters from expressing “views and opinions… on matters of political and industrial controversy or current public policy”.
The rules reflect the requirements in the Communications Act 2003 that were set by parliament.
Ofcom say their guidance explains that the “person providing the service” and anyone with editorial responsibility is the licensee – which in this case would be GB News – rather than the individual presenters or guests.