GB News, a new British news channel that claims to champion free speech, has sacked two of its presenters, Laurence Fox and Calvin Robinson, after they made offensive remarks on air. The decision has sparked a debate about the limits of free speech and the credibility of the channel.
Laurence Fox arrested and fired
Laurence Fox, a former actor and political activist, was arrested on Wednesday after police raided his home in London. He was released on bail later that day and spoke to Sky News outside Croydon police station. He said he had been arrested for “inciting racial hatred” and accused the police of being “politically motivated”.
He also revealed that he had been fired by GB News while he was in custody. He said he found out about his sacking from the police, who told him there were “loads of paparazzi” outside. He described GB News as “GB joke” and added: “At least I don’t have to go there every Friday night and have someone pretend they believe in free speech while not believing in free speech whatsoever.”
Fox had been hired by GB News as a weekly guest on Dan Wootton’s show, where he often expressed controversial views on topics such as Covid-19, lockdowns, vaccines, immigration, and race. He had also announced his intention to run for London mayor in 2024.
The comments that led to the sacking
The reason for Fox’s dismissal was his comments about a journalist named Ava Evans on Wootton’s show last week. Fox had called Evans a “paedophile” and a “nonce” after she had criticised him on Twitter for his anti-lockdown stance. He had also mocked her appearance and suggested she was mentally ill.
Fox’s remarks were widely condemned as abusive and defamatory, and Evans said she had received death threats and harassment as a result. She also reported Fox to the police for inciting hatred and violence against her.
GB News said it had launched an internal investigation into Fox’s comments and decided to terminate his contract with immediate effect. It said it had “zero tolerance” for such behaviour and apologised to Evans for any distress caused.
Calvin Robinson also shown the door
Fox was not the only presenter to be sacked by GB News this week. Calvin Robinson, a former teacher and commentator, was also let go by the channel after he made insensitive comments about slavery on Wootton’s show.
Robinson had argued that slavery was not a “black issue” and that people should stop “whining” about it. He had also claimed that Britain had abolished slavery and should be proud of its history. He had dismissed the idea of reparations for slavery as “ridiculous” and “racist”.
Robinson’s comments were met with outrage and criticism from many viewers and activists, who accused him of downplaying the horrors of slavery and its lasting impact on black people. They also pointed out that Britain had profited from slavery for centuries and had only abolished it after paying compensation to slave owners.
GB News said it had conducted an internal investigation into Robinson’s comments and decided to end his contract with immediate effect. It said it did not condone or endorse his views and apologised to anyone who was offended by them.
The backlash against GB News
The sacking of Fox and Robinson has raised questions about the credibility and integrity of GB News, which launched in June as a rival to mainstream media outlets such as BBC and Sky News. The channel has positioned itself as a platform for free speech and diverse opinions, but has also faced accusations of being biased, unprofessional, and divisive.
Some critics have argued that GB News has failed to live up to its promise of being a balanced and impartial news source, and has instead promoted a right-wing agenda that appeals to a niche audience. They have also pointed out that the channel has struggled with technical glitches, low ratings, and advertiser boycotts since its launch.
Others have defended GB News as a refreshing alternative to the dominant media narrative, and have praised it for giving voice to underrepresented views and challenging the status quo. They have also argued that the channel has been unfairly targeted by left-wing activists who want to silence dissenting opinions.
The debate over GB News reflects the wider polarisation of British society over issues such as Brexit, Covid-19, immigration, race, and culture. It also highlights the challenges of balancing free speech with responsibility and accountability in the age of social media and cancel culture.
What will happen next?
The future of GB News remains uncertain after the departure of two of its most controversial presenters. The channel has said it will continue to provide high-quality journalism and diverse perspectives, but it has also faced calls for more regulation and oversight from watchdogs such as Ofcom.
The fate of Dan Wootton, the host of the show where Fox and Robinson made their offensive comments, is also unclear. Wootton has been one of the most outspoken and provocative figures on GB News, and has often clashed with his colleagues and guests over his views. He has also been criticised for spreading misinformation and conspiracy theories about Covid-19 and vaccines.
GB News has said it is still investigating Wootton’s conduct and has not made a decision on his future. However, some sources have suggested that he could also face the axe if he does not tone down his rhetoric and adhere to the channel’s editorial standards.
Will GB News survive the storm and regain its credibility? Or will it collapse under the weight of its own controversies and contradictions? Only time will tell.