TLDR: The infamous columnist, pundit and now broadcaster is facing serious allegations of abuse, bullying and posing as a fictitious celebrity agent to acquire sexually explicit images. He denies any allegations of “criminality” but hasn't directly addressed the claims against him
Dan Wootton, the GB News host and Mail Online columnist, is facing a series of allegations from a former partner and multiple colleagues at The Sun and other News UK titles
A three-year investigation by Byline Times has now published some of what it says is part of a series of reports about Wootton.
Wootton hasn't addressed the allegations directly, but has denied any criminal activity.
What is Dan Wootton alleged to have done?
The most damning allegations are based on Byline Time's "extensive evidence" that Wootton posed as a fictitious celebrity agent ‘Martin Branning’ to get sexually explicit images from people by promising payments of up to £30,000.
Among the victims are senior News UK colleagues. Byline Times says it has handed a 28-page dossier to police for investigation.
Byline Times journalists said they have also spoken to several former colleagues of Wootton’s, who have detailed years of abuse leading to suicide attempts and constructive dismissal.
Meanwhile, Popbitch wrote a story regarding Wootton’s version of why he left ITV. Contrary to Wootton’s claims of ‘silencing’, sources at ITV say he was dropped for leaking stories to The Sun.
This all came a week after one of Wootton's former partners, Alex Truby, released a series of allegations on Twitter, leading to the broadcaster's name trending all week. He alleges an abusive relationship, as well as the broadcaster obtaining sexual videos of colleagues without the consent of some of those filmed.
We were aware of these allegations by Truby last week but didn't include them our newsletter because of our strict editorial policy - at the time we were unable to verify the claims. We are bringing this story to you now because of the wider reportage on the matter.
It’s also been revealed that Byline Times were not the only outlet looking into the claims. The Guardian’s media editor Jim Waterson called for additional sources with stories about ‘Martin Branning’.
In a GB News broadcast, Wootton tried to frame the allegations as part of a broader campaign by what he called "dark forces" to smear him and the Fox News-style channel. Spokespersons for Wootton have denied any "criminality".
In response, The Sun’s parent company News UK has hired external lawyers to help investigate what they're calling “very serious” allegations - The Guardian
Why does the media's response to allegations against Wootton matter?
Wootton, who happens to be gay, has been a leading voice over the last few months of other broadcaster sex scandals - namely those around Phillip Schofield and part of GB News who doubled down on their criticism of Huw Edwards last week.
The outlets he works for, including The Sun, MailOnline and GB News, have all been leading in propagating and misreporting those stories.
Indeed, the former Times editor at the time Wootton was at the Sun - both owned by News UK - James Harding said in the wake of the Edwards allegations:
"Had this story been about a Tory Cabinet Minister, or a Brexit-backing presenter on a right-leaning TV channel, they [the rest of the media] would be screaming for his sacking,” – that is not how the media have reacted to this story.
Still, as Tortoise outlines, the spotlight has shifted to the right-wing media organisations. Meanwhile, the response to the allegations against Wootton has taken a strikingly different tone.
Stories have largely been framed through Wootton denials. It’s impossible to pinpoint why, but it likely speaks to the power and fears many journalists, editors, and outlets have of Wootton a very powerful man in the British press.
Indeed, the Byline Times journalists who broke this investigation have faced computer hacking, and one found blood smeared on his car on Friday.
This story sits in a much bigger picture of stories about those in press and broadcasting inner circles, revealing the toxicity of newsroom cultures across the UK.
The question now remains especially for those owned by Rupert Murdoch, who would happily see the BBC dismantled:
Will the tabloids be ready to engage in the same level of critique, judgement and reflection towards themselves as they did when trying to take aim at the BBC?
The media landscape in the UK feels nightmarish at times. It doesn't have to.
Indeed, as independent outlets like Byline Times and QueerAF show - journalistic ethics, morals and intentions matter. Not just to us in the newsroom: but to you at home.
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