Notes on Laurence Fox, Don Wootton and Some Media Reactions

The Guardian reports on a statement from Laurence Fox, suspended from GB News after an appearance on Dan Wootton Tonight during which he disparaged joutnalist Ava Evans in crudely abusive sexual terms on live television:

In Thursday’s 15-minute video on X, Fox accused Evans of having a “dislike of men in general” and said he was angry with her about comments she had made during a BBC debate on male suicide, but apologised for “demeaning her”.

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 worldview because she would probably cause him nothing but harm.’

“But what I did say was, you know: ‘I wouldn’t shag 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.”

Apologising for making belligerent and provocative comments when that’s his whole brand is liable to be detrimental to Fox’s future – the case of Milo Yiannopoulos comes to mind.

It is also notable that he downplays what “all that sort of stuff” actually entailed. Here’s a transcript:

“…Show me a single self-respecting man that would like to climb into bed with that woman – ever – who wasn’t an incel, a cucked little incel.

“That little woman has been spoon fed oppression day after day after day, starting with the lie of the gender wage gap… Who’d want to shag that?”

Some earlier reports (including in the Guardian) unaccountably overlooked the word “cucked”, a term that denotes not just a cuckold in the ordinary sense, but a man who acquiesces in his wife’s adultery due to sexual inadequacy and a general inability to embody proper masculine attributes (as a term of disparagement against men, this also makes a mockery of Fox’s supposed concern about male suicide rates). As controversy grew on social media, Fox goaded critics by Tweeting about “the feminisation of men”. Meanwhile, GB News, likely out of fear of Ofcom censure, apologised for the broadcast.

Some of the responses to the incident are worth noting. The Daily Telegraph, which did so much to establish Fox’s reputation as a supposedly serious commentator, originally ran with the headline “GB News apologies after Laurence Fox calls reporter a ‘little woman'”, with a subheading that referred to a “series of remarks about Ava Evans”. This absurd demonstration of obtuseness was later superseded with “Laurence Fox refuses to apologise to ‘mob’ after GB News suspension”, followed by a reference to a “series of personal remarks about Ava Evans”.

Meanwhile, some of Fox’s supporters went through Ava Evans’s social media history looking for “gotchas”, and compiled a handful of old Tweets in which she had used the word “shag” into a screenshot that was then promoted by Fox himself as evidence of a double standard. In a couple of cases her Tweets were replies to other users in which she said that she wouldn’t shag them, but the original context of casual banter rather than a vicious attack was not provided. Anyone can see for themselves here and here. The false equivalence was too much for Dominique Samuels, a former GB News commentator who says she has changed her perspective after “going to the Netherlands and taking plant medicine”:

The ‘anti-woke’ political space has become so ridiculous that people honestly can’t see the difference between a detailed and hate-filled diatribe on national TV about having sex with a woman based on her political views, and a common turn of phrase used online.

Also attempting to shift the focus onto Evans’s past comments was one Connor Tomlinson, who in debate with Moya Lothian-McLean on Sky TV asserted that

Ava said women should be able to weaponise false rape allegations in order to keep men afraid of actually committing sexual assault.

Evans subsequently interpreted this to mean that she was now being accused of eoncouraging women to “file false rape allegations”, a reading which Tomlinson found objectionable. But Evans had never said anything about “weaponising” false allegations, and Tomlinson’s clarification Tweet was a tacit admission of this. Instead, he explained:

…when Isabel Oakeshott raised that concern about a young boy’s “life being ruined” with a false accusation, you said, “I like that terror. I like that. I think men should be frightened…

You stated on Piers Morgan, a year ago, that you endorsed the #MeToo paradigm which resulted in some women (Amber Heard, for example) making false accusations and destroy the lives of men, because you assessed, on the whole, that a culture of fear of these accusations was a benefit by keeping women safe.

“Weaponise false allegations” is a tenuous extroplation, and giving the impression that the phrase was a direct quote was misleading. Evans did not recognise the view attributed to her, and as such her “file false rape allegations” interpretation was reasonable (and likely to be how many viewers would have understood it). (1)

As well as the responses it’s also worth noting some non-responses within the populist conspiracy crowd. Various influencers and their associates who don’t want to defend Fox but who don’t want to burn bridges either have suddenly discovered the virtue of not expressing an opinion about everything: James Melville sniffs that “the media bubble squabbling on things that don’t matter is so tedious”.

Fox and Dan Wootton

Fox’s statement is also notable for his bitter comments about Dan Wootton, who joined GB News in issuing his own apology for the segment despite having privately messaged Fox with laughing emojis. Fox revealed that following allegations about Wootton in Byline Times (discussed here), he had given Wootton moral support every day for weeks and had provided him with “full access to free legal services” via his Bad Law Project (previously described here).  Fox added that “we” (presumably meaning the group) had organised his fundraiser, which has now not-so-mysteriously disappeared.

Wootton’s apology didn’t save him from also being suspended from GB News, and Pop Bitch carries the claim that he not only failed to respond to Fox appropriately at the time but also ignored direct instructions coming into his ear-piece. He has also now been dropped as columnist for the Daily Mail – the paper’s owners refer to “events this week”, which dodges the issue of what their ongoing investigation into older allegations may have found.

UPDATE: Fox subsequently appeared on a podcast hosted by Andrew Tate, during which he gave an aggrieved account of the incident with Ava Evans and complained more broadly about gender roles and relations in modern sociey (including his own circumstances as a divorced father). As for his apology to Evans:

When I said to her I’m sorry for, I demean myself by speaking to you in that manner – even though it was funny, fuck it, why not? – she said I cannot accept your apology.

Tate, as is well known, is currently under police investigation in Romania on allegations of rape and the sexual exploitation of women; he claims that he is innocent, and is being framed by “the Matrix”. Fox is sympathetic to this explanation, just as he has expressed scepticism about the allegations against Russell Brand. However, even leaving aside the criminal charges, there is no argument over Tate’s history of unambiguous and coarsely expressed misogyny. He openly boasts about using predatory seduction techniques to recruit women into webcam work, and he has even filmed himself engaging in sadistic sexual role-play.

Despite all this, Tate enjoys links with prominent US conservatives, and he has made appearances on GB News. There has, though, been one dissenting conservative voice in the UK, warning that “enemy of my enemy is not necessarily my friend” and objecting to Tate receiving “reputation management” from the likes of Candace Owens. That caution and complaint come from none other than Fox’s close associate Calvin Robinson.


(1) Tomlinson’s main platform is Carl Benjamin’s anti-feminist Lotus Eaters podcast – back in March he used the show to interview Fox’s close associate Calvin Robinson on the subject of “how to fix modern women”. Robinson is ordained as a deacon in a fringe off-shoot of the Church of England; he recently made an appearance on Fox News on the subject of how Christians cannot hold progressive views, as a result of which he received an endorsement from Franklin Graham.

A Note on Russell Brand and “Innocent Until Proven Guilty”

At the Spectator, Sam Leith notes support for Russell Brand from among the “alternative news” influencer crowd (links added):

Elon Musk and Jordan Peterson; Roger Stone, Alex Jones and Tucker Carlson; GB News’s Calvin Robinson (‘What is their motivation?’) and Bev Turner (‘This proves you are winning. You’re a hero’); George Galloway (‘I’m no Sherlock Holmes, but I smell a giant RAT); even the Telegraph‘s Allison Pearson, before the reports were aired or published, mused that ‘my first reaction is to wonder why They [sic] are trying to silence the person’. Laurence Fox, grotesquely, quoted Pastor Niemoller.

In some cases, it is not clear whether the commentators believe that Brand has been falsely accused, or just that he has been singled out unfairly. Several of the above have histories of making lurid allegations against others without much concern for due diligence – Musk infamously once called someone “pedo guy” in a fit of pique and more recently forced Twitter’s former head of site integrity go into hiding, while just a few days ago Carlson (who claims Brand has been targeted due to his views on drug companies and Ukraine) conducted a risible softball interview with the discredited figure of Larry Sinclair.

Leith also addresses how the principle of “innocent until proven guilty” is currently being bandied about “as if criminal conviction was now the minimum standard of verification for a newspaper investigation”. Certainly, in some cases (such as that of Calvin Robinson) the phrase seems to be a mantra deployed to dodge any need to engage with the story. However, some warnings about “trial by media” are more general and principled – particularly vocal on this point is Harvey Proctor, who was vilified based on a ludicrous and incompetent police investigation triggered by the liar and hoaxer Carl Beech.

The problem with “innocent until proven guilty”, though, is that it does not reflect how we assess what may or may not be pertinent information in everyday life, rather than when following the narrow epistemological principles imposed on juries. Even in law, the civil standard of a finding is “balance of probability” rather than absolute proof. We can all think of cases where an acquittal in a criminal case was more a matter of doubt rather than exoneration. Of course, it is important to be especially careful and fair-minded in relation to sexual allegations, due to the special circumstances of accusers whose identity is protected and the exceptional stigma that is attached to such crimes – but that doesn’t mean we can’t ever form a view about a particular situation.

In the case of Russell Brand, one accuser made a statement at a rape crisis centre the day after the alleged encounter occured in 2012, and she has what appears to be a text message from him in which he apologises for what occurred. It is reasonable to regard this as a case to answer, and then to draw adverse inferences if a credible answer is not forthcoming. We may then draw futher inferences about the likelihood of other allegations that can probably never be proven in court either way, such as that during one consensual sexual encounter he forced his alleged partner (a 16-year-old girl) to perform a sexual act against her will.

As regards the allegation of “grooming” a 16-year-old, this is not actually illegal unless and abuse of authority is involved, and so the issue of a criminal standard of proof doesn’t even apply – but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have reputational ramifications.

UPDATE: Laurence Fox has expressed the view that Brand must be innocent based on supposed statistical probability: “If Russell Brand has shagged over a thousand women, one would expect more than a 0.4% allegation rate.”

BBC Critics Seize on Disinformation Correspondent’s 2018 CV Embellishment

From the New European‘s “Mandrake” media column:

We all make mistakes when we are young, and sometimes they grow in irony as time passes. Case in point: Marianna Spring, the BBC’s disinformation correspondent who, I can reveal today, was once caught red-handed lying in her CV to win a job.

…Five years ago, in 2018, Spring was looking for work as a Moscow stringer for US-based news site Coda Story. In her application to editor-in-chief Natalia Antelava, she included a CV in which claimed to have worked alongside BBC correspondent Sarah Rainsford on the corporation’s coverage of the football World Cup held in Russia… A simple check by Antelava with Rainsford resulted in the latter admonishing Spring for the embellishment in her CV. A grovelling email apology from Spring to Antelava followed…

The disappointing indiscretion has been seized on with glee by critics of the BBC, including the conspiracy crowd and the anti-NATO left (“a criminal offence”, crows Kit Klarenberg, ludicrously [1]). Some headlines, such as the Telegraph‘s “Marianna Spring: BBC disinformation reporter ‘lied on her CV'” give the false impression that the story relates to her current position. On Twitter (sorry, “X”), Christian Christensen describes the social media reaction as “bro-schadenfreude”.

There is some surprise that the story appeared first in the New European. The column is anonymous, and the flow of information remains opaque. Perhaps it simply found its way there due to chance connections between journalists, but there might be something else going on: someone with a grievance who didn’t want to take their story to predictable anti-BBC news outlets; or possibily even a “friendly” leak to the weekly as news management to pre-empt some more vitriolic anti-BBC source.


1. Klarenberg published a supposed “investigation” of Spring in Grayzone in June, in which he suggested that the lack of anything interesting in her past must be evidence of a cover-up and noted darkly that she had studied at Pembroke College “during the period when disgraced former MI6 chief Richard Dearlove served as its master”. Given Dearlove’s retirement role as a buffoonish opinionator for the Telegraph, the hint of some “intelligence” link between the two is incoherent.

Covid Anti-Vax Conspiracy Crowd Embraces Tommy Robinson

Bankruptcy after losing a libel case does not appear to have unduly inconvenienced Tommy Robinson, who yesterday made an appearance at the “Facts Matter” anti-Covid vaccination conference in Denmark.

Photos posted online by one of the participants, Anastasia Maria Loupis, show Robinson posing with disgraced Reclaim Party MP Andrew Bridgen and with Peter McCollough – Loupis described Robinson and McCollough as “the greatest freedom fighters of all time”. A short video also shows Robinson and Bridgen sharing a trip in a people carrier, and Robinson chatting away with other attendees with actor John Bowe in the background.

Robinson, of course, will jump on any populist bandwagon no matter how intellectually discreditable, and it is easy to see how conspiracism about vaccines would have an affinity with conspiracist rhetoric about Muslim migration. Even so, though, the vaccine conspiracy movement’s embrace of Robinson is a new development that is likely to be controversial. It also reveals more about the nature of Laurence Fox’s Reclaim Party.

The “Facts Matter” conference was organised by a group calling itself the Danish Freedom Movement FBF (Frihedsbevægelsens Fællesråd), founded by one Malue Montclairre. Montclairre kicked off the event, followed by “Conference host Mette Bloch & John Bowe”. John Bye has noted some of the line-up:

Andrew Bridgen clearly has an odd sense of what kind of speakers make a “great event” given he’s in a session with Reiner Fuellmich (accused by his own group of embezzling funds) and Dolores Cahill (on the run from the Irish police), with music from Matt Hoy (ex Continuity UB40). [1] Also at the ironically named Facts Matter Conference are Pierre Kory pushing ivermectin, Clare Craig exaggerating vaccine harms, Ryan Cole blaming them for “turbo cancer”, and John Campbell on how he got rich by embracing quackery on YouTube. Sorry, “evidence-based social media”. [2]

The allegation against Fuellmich is discussed in more detail on German news portal t-online – complaints against him were rejected by the Berlin public prosecutor, although he declined to give an account to the t-online reporter on the grounds that the media is under the control “of those who are responsible for this plandemic and everything else related to the Great Reset” (via Google translate).

Robinson was not himself a speaker – Bye says that he “seems to be reporting on the Facts Matter Conference for his BitChute channel”. He was also in Denmark for other reasons – he gave an interview for Aia Fog and Michael Pihl of “The Free Press Society 2004” (Trykkefrihedsselskabet af 2004) and met with Morten Messerschmidt of the Danish Peoples Party (DPP, Dansk Folkeparti) – in one video he appears to be wearing a Burberry shirt worth several hundred pounds, which may be of some interest to the bankruptcy investigators.