04 March 2024

Ofcom says Laurence Fox’s comments about Ava Evans broke broadcasting rules

04 March 2024

Laurence Fox’s “misogynistic” comments about female journalist Ava Evans on GB News’ Dan Wootton Tonight broke broadcasting rules, media watchdog Ofcom has said.

The remarks about political correspondent Ms Evans made by the actor turned politician during an episode of the programme on September 26 last year, in which he asked “Who would want to shag that?”, received 8,867 complaints.

Fox and presenter Wootton were suspended by GB News after the broadcast and Fox was later sacked from the channel.

Neither apologised while on air, but did subsequently offer apologies.

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

The media watchdog’s investigation found that Wootton’s and GB News’ accounts of why an apology was not read out “differed” and noted no other “editorial techniques” were used to address the potential for offence.

“We considered this indicated that GB News’ editorial control of this live programme had been inadequate,” it added.

In a ruling, the regulator 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,” Ofcom 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”.

It 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, formerly Twitter: “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”.

Ofcom also announced it is launching a further investigation into Nigel Farage’s programme on the channel on January 17.

A spokesman for the regulator 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.”

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