Ofcom finds GB News broke rules when Laurence Fox ‘demeaned’ journalist

<span>GB News suspended and later sacked Laurence Fox after the broadcast.</span><span>Photograph: Leon Neal/Getty Images</span>
GB News suspended and later sacked Laurence Fox after the broadcast.Photograph: Leon Neal/Getty Images

An episode of Dan Wootton Tonight on GB News in which the former actor Laurence Fox questioned who would want to “shag” a female journalist broke broadcasting rules, the media watchdog has ruled.

The remarks made by Fox, the leader of the rightwing Reclaim party, in which he asked, “Who would want to shag that?” about JOE Media’s political correspondent Ava Evans received 8,867 complaints.

Fox and the presenter Wootton, who both apologised, were suspended by the channel after the broadcast on 26 September, and Fox was later sacked.

On Monday, Ofcom said: “An Ofcom investigation today concluded that an episode of Dan Wootton Tonight on GB News broke broadcasting rules designed to protect viewers from offensive content.”

In a ruling, it said his comments “constituted a highly personal attack on Ms Evans and were potentially highly offensive to viewers”.

“They reduced her contribution to a broadcast discussion on mental health – in her professional capacity as a political journalist – to a judgment on whether she, or women like her, who publicly expressed their political opinions, were sexually desirable to men,” it added.

The media watchdog said it had found Fox’s comments to be “degrading and demeaning both to Ms Evans and women generally” and “clearly and unambiguously misogynistic”.

The media watchdog also found Wootton’s reaction and “limited challenge” in response “did not mitigate the potential for offence”.

“Rather, they exacerbated it by contributing to the narrative in which a woman’s value was judged by her physical appearance.”

Following the ruling, Fox said in a statement posted to X: “I’m not overly bothered about this anymore. I could have expressed myself better, that’s life and I’ve said my bit.

“I still think it’s one of the biggest pieces of confected outrage I’ve ever witnessed, but in the interests of openness and transparency.”

He claimed that “everything” he said on air was “discussed and agreed with the production team beforehand” and they were “laughing and joking” about it.

He also alleged the channel has a delay so they could have “cut the feed, but they didn’t”.

In the segment Fox had called Evans a “little woman” and went on to say: “Show me a single self-respecting man that would like to climb into bed with that woman ever, ever, who wasn’t an incel.

“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’d want to shag that?”

Following the broadcast in September, Evans posted the clip of the segment to X, with the comment: “Laurence Fox just did a whole speech on GB News on why men apparently won’t shag me.” She added in a reply: “I feel physically sick.”

At the time, GB News issued a statement saying Fox’s stance “does not reflect our values”.

“Comments made tonight on GB News by Laurence Fox were totally unacceptable,” the channel said in a response posted to X. “What he said does not reflect our values and we apologise unreservedly for the comments and the offence they have caused. We have launched an investigation and will be apologising to the individual involved.”

On Monday, Ofcom said it had “significant concerns about GB News’ editorial control of its live output” and had requested a meeting with the broadcaster to discuss its “compliance practices” on this topic.