TW: mentions of suicide, self harm, harassment, grooming, bullying
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On 17 July 2023, The Byline Times released the first installment of their three-year-long investigation against now GBNews presenter, Dan Wootton. In it, they reveal that several former colleagues of Wootton had been targets to his catfishing attempts.
It is believed that Wootton asked people, usually heterosexual males, for explicit content such as ‘naked photos.’
The publication writes that they have ‘extensive evidence’ which prove that ‘between June 2008 and 2018, Wootton posed as a fictitious show-business agent to offer sums of up to £30,000 “tax free” to his targets.’
On 20 July, The Byline Times published the second part of their investigation. New accusations are brought up which foreshadow a scandal like no other.
Accusations against Dan Wootton are bigger than anything before
British TV presenters have had a difficult 2023. Numerous scandals have emerged concerning influential figures on our screens.
First we have Phillip Schofield who in May 2023 stepped down from This Morningand ITV after several decades on air. It was revealed that Schofield had an affair with a member of staff who was underage when they first met. Later on, Schofield faced accusations of grooming the young man.
Phillip Schofield admitted to the affair saying, in his BBC interview, that it was ‘unwise but not illegal.’ Following the scandal, Schoffield was dropped by his agent and has not been seen on air since.
Then, at the beginning of July 2023, there was the whole Huw Edwards scandal. For days after The Sun published an article claiming that a star presenter of the BBC had been paying £35,000 to a minor for sexual pictures, guesses about who the presenter was flourished. Finally, Huw Edwards’ wife revealed that he was the presenter in question on 12 July 2023.
Huw Edwards is not facing criminal charges as the minor in question, who is now 20, claimed that the story was ‘rubbish’ and that the MET police dropped its investigation.
What is different about Dan Wootton is the nature of the accusations. Not only is he accused of catfishing colleagues for sexual content, the second part of the investigation led by The Byline Times focuses on his ‘professional conduct’ while working at The Sun. The publication brings to light allegations of bullying and harassment insisting that his behaviour was continuous throughout his time at the tabloid.
It was also later revealed that Dan Wootton had allegedly been paying porn stars to gain access to their Facebook accounts. With this access, Byline explains that Wootton organised meetings between some of his colleagues and the porn stars asking the latter to record the meeting, sometimes without the other person's knowledge.
‘One was left suicidal, another suffering stress-induced hair loss’
While Phillip Schofield and Huw Edwards’ scandals mostly focused on isolated incidents, the investigation from The Byline Times shows Dan Wootton’s years of misconduct. In the second part of their series on the scandal, the publication shares many testimonies of the alleged victims.
The Byline Times has had six people come forward but they believe that there are more people who suffered possible mistreatment from Wootton.
A kitchen knife at a meeting
One of the most shocking testimonies revealed by the investigation is the story about a ‘very senior member of The Sun’ who allegedly wanted to kill themselves after executives had sided with Wootton.
very senior member of The Sun team took a kitchen knife to a meeting with a former editor of the newspaper with the intention of slitting their own wrists in front of the executive
The incident was then ‘resolved’ by settling for a ‘six figure sum.’
Sexual orientation harassment
Dan Wootton is an openly gay man. He came out on Twitter in 2013. The investigation gives voices to members of staff who claim that Wootton would often make comments about colleagues’ sexual orientation. One says:
(he) continually tried to make people admit they were bisexual or gay
According to the investigation, Wootton continually harassed collaborators about their sexual orientation, especially male colleagues.
He sexually harassed these male colleagues all the time. One would come in and Dan would often comment on the way he looked and goad him, saying ‘are you sure you want to be married? We all know you’re gay
‘It was impossible to do your job.’
The investigation continues and reveals that Dan Wootton also had the habit of making journalists’ lives difficult. They explain that one member of staff was driven away after continually being ‘undermined and constructively dismissed.’
It is reported that Wootton would ‘sabotage’ his colleagues using his senior position to ‘ find out the names of contacts.’ According to the person giving the testimony, Wootton would then have the contacts deal only with him, effectively taking away a source from another journalist.
They also report that Wootton was playing ‘mind games’ sending late night emails and bullying people.
The Byline Times takes the time to specify that no one was paid to give these testimonies.
Dan Wootton has denied the first allegations but is yet to have commented on the second article from The Byline Times.
Dan Wootton suspended
On 27 September, after months of continuous allegations, GB News announced that they were suspending Dan Wootton. This announcement follows a controversial statement made by other GB News presenter Laurence Fox happened on Dan Wootton's show.
In the segment, Fox said that no man would 'sh*g' journalist Ava Evans because of her opinions. In the clip, you can see Wootton giggling and allowing Laurence Fox to proceed with what many people are calling a 'sexist' rant.
Though Wootton apologised on X, GB News has decided to suspend him and launch an investigation. This occurs mere days after Angelos Frangopoulos said that the channel would not be investigating the allegations about Wootton made by Byline because they hadn't happened at GB News.
The Byline Times: Dan Wootton was a ‘Serial Bully’ at the Sun – But Bosses Promoted Him as Complaints were Silenced
The Byline Times: GB News Star Dan Wootton Unmasked in Cash-for-Sexual Images Catfishing Scandal