The GB News presenter, who has written a regular column for Mail Online since 2021, claims to be the victim of a “witch hunt” after being accused of using fake online identities to trick men into sending him explicit images for tens of thousands of pounds.
Wootton has denied any criminal wrongdoing, although he has admitted to “errors of judgment in the past”.
The broadcaster, who hosted the Dan Wootton Tonight programme on GB News as scheduled on Thursday night without reference to the suspension, dismissed the allegations on his show last month as “simply untrue” and a “campaign to destroy my life”.
The allegations, first published last month by independent outlet Byline Times, include claims of alleged behaviour while he edited The Sun‘s Bizarre column, as well as claims of payments for explicit images and videos.
Following the claims, the publishers of Mail Online and his previous employers at The Sun said they were looking into allegations made against the New Zealand-born star.
Below, we take a look at the timeline of events surrounding the allegations made against Mr Wootton.
Byline Times published a number of detailed and serious allegations against Mr Wootton, claiming that it had evidence he had pretended to be a man named Martin Branning.
The outlet claimed two victims made criminal complaints to the Metropolitan Police, based on Branning’s activities since 2019.
This was to be the first of multiple sets of allegations that Byline Times published in the following weeks, with its seventh report being released on 3 August.
Contacted by The Independent following the publication of the Byline Times report, Scotland Yard said: “In June 2023, the Metropolitan Police was contacted with regards to allegations of sexual offences committed by a man.
“Officers are assessing information to establish whether any criminal offence has taken place. There is no police investigation at this time.”
A spokesperson for News UK told The Independent at the time: “We are looking into the allegations made in recent days. We are not able to make any further comment at this stage.”
MailOnline publisher DMG Media said at the time: “‘We are aware of the allegations and are looking into them.”
The Guardian published a report making allegations against Branning that were similar to those made in Byline Times.
The paper reported that it had not been able to independently establish a link between Branning and Mr Wootton.
Speaking on his programme on GB News later that night, Mr Wootton said: “These past few days I have been the target of a smear campaign by nefarious players with an axe to grind.”
He added: “I, like all fallible human beings, have made errors of judgement in the past. But the criminal allegations being made against me are simply untrue.
“I would like nothing more than to address those spurious claims – I could actually spend the next two hours doing so – but on the advice of my lawyers, I cannot comment further.
“But I have been thinking much over the past few days about the current state of social media, where any allegation can be made in an attempt to get someone cancelled, but it is impossible to defend yourself against thousands of trolls.”
Adding that he was “coming on air tonight with a lot of humility too”, he said: “Being in the middle of this witch hunt has made me think a lot about the sort of journalist and broadcaster I aspire to be – one focused on the massive political threats facing this country, not on personal attacks.”
A number of other media outlets published articles in the wake of Mr Wootton’s remarks on his show.
The Culture, Media and Sport Committee wrote to The Sun and the BBC following the widespread coverage of allegations presenter Huw Edwards paid a young person for sexually explicit images.
The letter to The Sun editor Victoria Newton also asked her to set out what investigations were taking place into allegations made about former Sun journalist Mr Wootton, in the wake of accusations he had offered colleagues money for sexual material.
Newton’s letter in response said the paper was investigating, adding: “We take these allegations seriously but we are in no position to comment further and indeed we make no commitment to make any further comment depending on the outcome of our investigation.”
It was announced that Mr Wootton’s MailOnline column has been paused while the publication investigates allegations he used a pseudonym and offered colleagues money for sexual material.
The GB News presenter has written a regular column for the online outlet since 2021, with his last article published on June 29.
A spokesperson for DMG Media, which publishes MailOnline, said: “We are continuing to consider a series of allegations which Dan Wootton – who has written columns for MailOnline since 2021 as one of several outside freelance contributors – has strenuously denied.
“The allegations are obviously serious but also complex and historic and there is an independent investigation under way at the media group which employed him during the relevant period.
“In the meantime, his freelance column with MailOnline has been paused.”
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