Has the Daily Mail quietly suspended Dan Wootton pending an in-house investigation?

As several outlets have reported, Dan Wootton lawyered up in a hurry when the first rumors/reports of his “Martin Branning” blackmail scheme first began percolating through social media and the British media. Last week, Byline Times began their multi-part exclusive reporting on Wootton’s years of extortion, blackmail, sexual harassment, bullying and more. Soon after, Wootton’s layers from Mischon de Reya blanketed the UK media with the same statement: that Byline’s reporting is “replete with false allegations about our client, including the grave allegation that our client has committed criminal acts by using illegal means to obtain compromising sexual material from scores of male victims whom he has targeted in a multi-year criminal conspiracy operation.” That hasn’t stopped News UK (The Sun) to call in the lawyers for an investigation into Wootton’s time at the tabloid. It’s become such a major story in the UK that MPs were even asking questions about Wootton when the Sun’s editor, Victoria Newton, spoke at a hearing over reporting standards this week:

The Sun has said it stands by its reporting on Huw Edwards and is continuing to investigate the former employee Dan Wootton, as the tabloid faces scrutiny over its reporting standards and internal culture. The editor, Victoria Newton, told MPs the Sun was a “responsible media organisation which has strict editorial and legal frameworks” to ensure accuracy in its reporting, while also taking allegations about internal misconduct very seriously.

Newton confirmed the external law firm Kingsley Napley had been hired to advise on the investigation [into Wootton]. She said: “On Mr Wootton we are investigating relevant matters raised by reports by Byline Times and the Guardian last week … 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.”

Wootton has retained his nightly show at the rightwing channel GB News, where he has blamed “dark forces” for trying to bring him down. But his lucrative twice-weekly column at MailOnline has not appeared since allegations against him were first made by an ex-boyfriend and Byline Times. The company previously said it was looking into claims against the presenter.

Asked if Wootton was still being paid by MailOnline, a spokesperson said: “There isn’t any update” and ended the call.

[From The Guardian]

If you’re keeping score at home, the Sun (News UK) has hired outside lawyers to conduct an investigation into Wootton’s behavior for a decade at the paper (his tenure ended in 2020). The Mail – which is one of Wootton’s current employers – has not announced any similar investigation, their spokesperson is just saying that the situation is being “looked into.” One could argue that Wootton is much more siloed and contained at the Mail – he’s not in charge of showbiz reporting (like he was at the Sun) nor is he technically part of the royal rota. He’s not covering the daily royal events, he’s just a columnist with sources deep within Kensington Palace.

The Daily Beast also pointed out that the Mail hasn’t published a Wootton column since June 29th (it was about the Sussexes, naturally). To be fair (I know), I’m pretty sure his column was already on hiatus because Wootton was on vacation in the first half of July? That’s why he wasn’t on air at GB News too. Still, he’s been back on air on GB News for a week – surely he’s had time to barf out a new Mail column? Hm.

Photos courtesy of GB News.

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