Laurence Fox’s misogynistic comments on GB News broke Ofcom rules

Laurence Fox
Laurence Fox was later sacked by GB News - Leon Neal/Getty Images
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Laurence Fox’s misogynistic on-air comments about a political correspondent on GB News broke Ofcom rules, the media watchdog has ruled.

The former actor, 45, asked “Who would want to shag that?” about Ava Evans, a female journalist, during an episode of GB News’s Dan Wootton Tonight show on Sept 26.

Fox, the leader of the Reclaim Party, and presenter Wootton, who both later apologised, were suspended by the channel after the broadcast, which received 8,867 complaints. Fox was later sacked by GB News.

Now an Ofcom investigation has concluded that the episode “broke broadcasting rules designed to protect viewers from offensive content”.

In a ruling, the watchdog said Fox’s 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 also found Wootton’s reaction and “limited challenge” in response “did not mitigate the potential for offence”.

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

Wootton was suspended by the channel following the episode for allowing Fox to make the remarks unchallenged and for failing to apologise to viewers or the journalist during the programme.

A third presenter, Rev Calvin Robinson, was also suspended after making comments in support of Wootton and criticising the management of GB News.

Fox later apologised to Ms Evans, who works for the Politics Joe website, saying his comments about her were “demeaning”.

Ava Evans, a political correspondent, appearing on Channel 5's Jeremy Vine programme
Ofcom said Fox's comments 'constituted a highly personal attack on Ava Evans' - Channel 5/PA

There are currently 13 open Ofcom investigations into GB News after the watchdog announced on Jan 17 that it was launching a further investigation into Nigel Farage’s programme on the channel.

An Ofcom spokesman said: “We are investigating whether this programme broke our rules requiring news and current affairs to be presented with due impartiality, and preventing politicians from acting as news presenters.”

Other open investigations include two into Jacob Rees-Mogg’s State of the Nation programme under Ofcom’s due impartiality rules, and three into the Esther McVey and Philip Davies morning programme among others.

Meanwhile, three other Ofcom rulings into the news channel found it to have broken impartiality rules.

The rule-breaking incidents were a discussion of The Live Desk’s “Don’t Kill Cash” in December, a discussion on immigration between Richard Tice and Martin Daubney in October, and when Tory MPs interviewed Jeremy Hunt days before the 2023 Autumn Statement in September.

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