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Calls to shut down right-wing UK news channel engulfed by misogyny scandal

Laurence Fox, pictured at an election results count in 2021, has been suspended by the channel
Laurence Fox, pictured at an election results count in 2021, has been suspended by the channel Copyright JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP
Copyright JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP
By Scott Reid
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Laurence Fox has refused to apologise for his 'unacceptable' comments about a female journalist.

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Right-wing British television channel GB News is under investigation over comments two of its presenters made live on air about a female reporter – and calls are growing for it to be boycotted and even closed down.

Laurence Fox, an actor turned political provocateur, has been taken off air by the channel following a series of remarks about journalist Ava Evans, the political correspondent for online news site Joe, during an episode of Dan Wootton Tonight on Tuesday. 

The presenter of that show, Dan Wootton, has now also been suspended. 

Responding to comments Evans made on the BBC in a panel discussion about whether there should be a minister for men, Fox said she had been "spoon-fed oppression". 

"Show me a single, self-respecting man that would like to climb into bed with that woman," he added. 

In response, Evans posted on X, the site formerly known as Twitter, "Laurence Fox just did a whole speech on GB News on why men apparently won't shag me?"

She said in a follow-up post that Fox's comments made her feel "physically sick". 

British broadcasting watchdog Ofcom said it had received complaints and had launched an investigation. 

GB News described the comments as "unacceptable". It said it had suspended Laurence Fox, who also hosts a show on the station, and would apologise to Evans. 

Later, it announced that it had also suspended Wootton.

Before the news of his suspension, in a lengthy post on X, Wootton said he was in "no way amused by the comments" and reacted as he did "out of shock". He also sent an apology post to Evans, stating "this is not what our channel is about". 

However, Fox doubled down, stating that he stood by "every word of what I said" and accusing the channel of "capitulating to the mob"

Other presenters on the station have condemned the on-air comments. Mark Dolan described them as "shameful", while Emily Carver said they were "disgusting" and that she was relieved action was being taken.  

GB News has proved controversial in the UK since it was launched in June 2021.

While newspapers are free to express views as they wish, broadcasters in the country are required meet strict broadcasting rules and demonstrate "due impartiality". 

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The channel, many of whose hosts and guests have voiced controversial views, conspiracy theories and misinformation, has been the subject of multiple investigations by Ofcom into areas such as whether its programming has met the regulator's broadcasting code. 

The watchdog recently found that GB News breached impartiality rules after the sitting chancellor was interviewed by MPs from his own party.

In response, the channel stated the programme was "overwhelmingly reflective of the viewpoints of different strands of opinion within the Conservative Party".]

However, among those calling for the channel to be shut down after the row is Conservative MP Caroline Nokes.

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"It should be taken off air," Nokes told the BBC's late-night show Newsnight. "It was entirely predictable that Laurence Fox was going to come out with a statement that was that offensive. I think what was less predictable would be Dan Wootton’s smirking reaction.

"But really I think Ofcom deserves a bit of time and space for it to do its job, and if we as parliament aren’t happy with the regulations that are set, then maybe we should be tightening them up."

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