Right-wing commentator Laurence Fox has admitted he expects GB News bosses to sack him and fellow presenter Dan Wootton – after more than two days of public uproar over his offensive and sexist comments to a female journalist.
Fox also finally apologised to the journalist Ava Evans, admitting he had been “demeaning” towards her – but in a rambling 15-minute video tirade on social media he sought to justify his rant, saying he stood by the sentiment he had expressed.
The actor-turned-politician made a series of remarks about political correspondent Ms Evans, which included asking “who would want to s*** that?” during a discussion on Dan Wootton Tonight on Tuesday.
Both Fox and Wootton, who could be heard laughing during the rant, were suspended by GB News on Wednesday as channel bosses launched an investigation.
Media regulator Ofcom has also launched an official investigation into the show after receiving around 7,300 complaints.
Dame Melanie Dawes, chief executive of the watchdog – which has been criticised for being too lax – said the rules were “designed to protect audiences from offensive and harmful material, and to uphold the integrity of broadcast news and current affairs programming, while always ensuring that freedom of expression is front and centre in every decision we take”.
Wootton had apologised “unreservedly” for his behaviour during Fox’s tirade, and Ms Evans said he repeatedly tried to call her that night.
Fox, who comes from an acting dynasty, originally objected to comments by Ms Evans on male suicide, asking what ”self-respecting man” would “climb into bed” with her.
In Thursday’s video message, he said: “If I was going to be sensible and I could replay it, I would say: ‘Any self-respecting man in 2023 would probably be well advised to avoid a woman who possessed that world view because she would probably cause him nothing but harm’.
“But what I did say was, you know, ‘I wouldn’t s*** that’, and all that sort of stuff, which is not right. It’s demeaning to her, to Ava, so I’m sorry for demeaning you in that way.
“However angry I am with you still for doing that, and it demeans me because it’s not representative of who I am.”
He added: “I know I’m going to get sacked tomorrow [Friday]. I’m saying this stuff to clear my own conscience.”
He claimed GB News had opened themselves up for “complete destruction”, because they had branded themselves as the home of free speech but were “probably more at risk of cancel culture than any other channel”.
The right-wing news channel’s coverage – already in the spotlight – prompted further dismay after it announced home secretary Suella Braverman would be interviewed by her own party’s deputy chair, Lee Anderson.
Just a week ago it was sanctioned by Ofcom over impartiality. It was found to have breached the rules when chancellor Jeremy Hunt was interviewed by married Tory MPs Esther McVey and backbencher Philip Davies ahead of his spring budget in March.
A host of politicians have condemned Fox’s rant and the language he used.
Former prime minister Gordon Brown said Wootton and Fox “have got to be kept off of the air”, while regulator Ofcom needed “more teeth”.
Culture secretary Lucy Frazer at first declined to condemn Fox’s remarks, but later described them as “unacceptable”.
The shadow culture secretary Thangam Debbonaire questioned why ask why a national broadcaster would want to keep Laurence Fox on air.
She tweeted that “woman-hating on air has hit a new low”, asking: “Should we have to tell a broadcaster that on-air woman-hate is not OK? It’s tiring and it takes us away from what we do. Men need to step up.”
Scotland first minister Humza Yousaf branded Fox a “vile neanderthal”.
Ms Evans told Good Morning Britain she was deeply embarrassed by the furore, and was appreciative of everyone who had stood up for her, but said some comments had been very threatening.
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