Op-Ed: The Pillory of Dan Wootton – A Call for Integrity Amidst Accusations
Last month, the United Kingdom was rocked by two weeks of revelations about the ITV “This Morning” co-presenter, Phillip Schofield, as the years-old story began to leak out that he allegedly groomed a young boy who he later got a job for at his show. Then, mere weeks later, The Sun prints a story of a concerned mother of an underage child alleging a well-known BBC presenter had solicited indecent images from them and paid an astronomical sum for, which the teenager used to fuel a crack cocaine addiction. Barely a week had passed since the revelation that this presenter was the iconic British newsreader Huw Edwards, and allegations surfaced about former Executive Editor of The Sun, now GBNews presenter and columnist for MailOnline, Dan Wootton. What in the Good Lord’s Earth is going on here? Are the British public and the wider world being led around by the nose? I say yes.
This writeup of mine isn’t going to focus on or explore the question of what just happened to British and other social media, but we may get a good idea by taking a look at the latest name to be locked in the stocks for the public to throw virtual vegetable matter at.
As an irishman with little concern for the goings-on across the channel, I only started looking at GBNews when they began reporting on the ever-evolving Schofield story. Naturally, the most frequent face apart from his former colleague Eamonn Holmes was the bizarre man Dan Wootton. I instantly disliked him. Nothing he said gave me pause, but his mannerisms and speech patterns gave me an impression of unlikeability. I soon got bored with the Schofield saga, certain that I knew all there needs to be known, and I never looked at GBNews ever again. I filed the face and name of Dan Wootton away under “insufferable douchebag” and went about my life, not knowing my sentiment was shared by a sizeable portion of the UK.
Fastforward to the revelation that two men have accused Dan of abuses such as stalking, sexual assualt, and voyeurism. I was ready to believe the accusations, but I donned my journalist cap and dug into everything I could find, expecting to uncover similar to the very clear evidence pointing to Schofield’s crimes and the compelling suggestions pointing toward Edwards’ guilt – but I came up with NOTHING. Seemingly, I alone stood in the Twitter world defending this man’s right to “innocence until guilt proven”, even arguing (very pleasantly, I should say) with some British friends. If you’re reading this, you know I love you, but what’s love without an occasional disagreement?
I stood fast to my convictions, but the past 24 hours has taught me that my national neighbours are a bit carried away with their emotions. It seems being seen as a monster in one category means you’re automatically a monster in the worst category on foot of some anonymous allegations – the category of sex pest.
I’m not trying to tell you I’m remaining objective because I have some kind of super power or because I’m smarter than many people, but instead it’s simply a matter of me not being as familiar with Wootton as the British public are. I don’t pay attention to celebrities or read tabloids – Dan’s wheelhouse – never mind the celebs and tabloids of the country next door. I wasn’t around when he supposedly took the piss out of Susan Boyle for using public transport, when he talked shit about Meghan Markle for being Meghan Markle, or when he supposedly contributed toward Caroline Flack’s suicide. I’m neither intimately familiar with any of these cultural icons in Britain or their suffering at Dan’s hands, however I feel confident in saying the only person I feel remotely sorry for is Susan Boyle – a woman who did nothing to nobody, as apposed to a woman who violently attacked her intimate partner with a knife and another woman, so full of her own gas, she could replace the world’s dependence on coal power plants. I know nothing of these people, nor the damage they suffered at this tabloid-mongers hands, nor the psychological trauma he seemingly inflicted on the British public as a whole. I’m an outsider, and sometimes you need the perspective of an outsider when you’re so far into a relationship that you’ve lost track of where you end and the other person begins. Consider me, dear British public, as your Marriage Counsellor, as I mediate your messy relationship with tabloid media – as co-dependant and riddled with hypocrisy as it is.
This Op-Ed was probably going to happen eventually, but it only became my first priority this evening after tuning into Shaun Attwood Unleashed, with frequent guest Matthew Steeples of The Steeple Times (links aren’t endorsement, but I do enjoy both of these men’s works). I find it hard to watch these YouTube streams because every time Matthew appears he seems to be further on in his night each time. I enjoy watching someone sip a glass of wine or something stronger and rant about the world when it’s somebody as eloquent and intelligent as he is, but lately he’s been showing up three sheets to the wind and is less aware of his surroundings. I lost even more respect for this journalist when he seemed to parrot the same talking points that I’ve seen for days on Twiter, which you could interpret as: “I don’t like this guy, so I’m going to join the dogpile and pillory him while he’s being accused of something heineous.” That is excusible in an ordinary citizen voicing their opinion on Twitter, less acceptable from a man with a sizeable audience, and absolutely not acceptable from one who describes himself as a journalist.
They say that “Democracy dies in darkness”, referring to proper and free journalism keeping our institutions honest with the threat of being exposed. The same is true for justice – if in any way “the keepers of record”, the papers and those who write for them, are compromised by any allegiance other than the truth, then we face a world of summary judgments and public lynching. Matthew Steeples should know better, and frankly all of us should know better now that the Internet has placed into our hands the potential to speak to hundreds or millions of people without the usual barriers to entry into journalism – passing through gatekeepers and jumping through hoops. As bad as those gatekeepers have become and as small as those hoops have become, we can’t just abandon the notion of standards altogether.
Why do you hate Dan Wootton? Nevermind. That doesn’t matter. What’s important is that you hate him and that’s none of my business. Hold onto that hate, but consider for a moment that it might be used against you. Ask yourself why you’re no longer concerned about Phillip Schofield and his alleged/apparent victim, Matthew. Could it be because the Huw Edwards scandal broke a few weeks after? Ask yourself why you no longer care about Huw Edwards and his alleged crimes. Could it be because a week later, an historic complaint against Dan Wootton suddenly got national attention? Maybe you’ll tell me “No, I still care about Phillip Schofield,” but be honest with yourself. You don’t care any more than I do, because Schofield isn’t in the news this week. It’s human psychology at work, and the only way Schofield is getting back in the news is life somebody came forward to say he boiled kittens alive, a dozen at a time, and ate them with the blood of infants as a garnish. You’re being led by the nose. So let’s actually look at the pressure points of this story:
(as an aside: £10 goes to the first person who can tell me exactly how many days elapsed between the judgment of the Nicola Bulley inquest and the Huw Edwards scandal)
Holidays in New Zealand
One rumour is that Wootton was absent for and because of the exposure of his private life, yet his last appearance before his holiday was on July 4th. Dan Wootton Tonight still aired as scheduled, but with a replacement jockey until his return on July 17th. Maybe you could say he saw this coming, but how so? And keep this in mind for later as it might tip the scales for you.
On his return from hiatus, Wootton insisted that he didn’t deleted any tweets about Huw Edwards and that he didn’t make any because he didn’t have all the facts. The claim that he deleted tweets is based on nothing. Granted, nobody would ever think to archive his tweets with the expectation that they’ll be deleted, but you need evidence to convict a man. I don’t see the British Police formally demanding backup copies of Dan’s Twitter account, because they’re not in the business of establishing rumours. So evidence of this either way is not forthcoming.
The Many Names of His Accuser
Real name William Watson, Dan denies ever meeting this person. He goes by the names Kev Sutherland and Alex Truby, and his story varies over time as much as his name. Dan claims he’s an obsessed stalker, which would fit right into this person’s profile, as he was convicted for sextortion fraud of multiple men to the tune of £90,000. If you don’t know what that means, he talked both gay and straight men into taking revealing photos of themselves and initiated conversations about underage sex, then posed as an authority figure to pressure these men into paying a ransome for not exposing them.
A friend tried to tell me that abused people go on to sell their bodies. And although that’s true that William/Alex/Kev did become an OnlyFans content creator, he did also commit these heineous crimes and was into the prostitution business well before 2009 when the alleged relationship occcured.
Hold-all Behind the Washing Machine
Do you have a washing machine at home? I think we all do, unless we live in a high-rise flat or apartment, making water pressure a scarce commodity. Try to hide something behind the washing machine, especially something the size of a holdall bag, and count the hours before someone notices how unusually jutted out your washing machine is. Then consider, if this contains something you want to hide (say, the size of a self-incriminating hard drive and a few sheets of papaer), what more discreet methods could you imagine?
William’s claim is that when cat-sitting for Dan, we found such a thing behind the washing machine.
The Contents of the Holdall
William claims he found the holdall locked and curiosity/suspicion got the best of him, so he opened it up and viewed the contents. He says tt was a video of people having sex… [extreme sarcasm warning] because one video takes up a whole hard drive. Just that one video, nothing else incriminating on it. And the bag also contained PRINT OUTS of an instant messenger conversation, detailing a conversation between Dan’s super-top-secret name and a BBC employee, offering them a large amount of money to film aforementioned video against their partner’s wishes. This fictional name “Martin Branning” is claimed by this person to have pestered multiple people for such content. The most important fact about this is they remain anonymous and only have spoken through William. Another interesting fact, dare I say a FUN FACT [extreme sarcasm warning], I always use the same name over and over when I’m doing something illegal, even though it would be effortless and safer for me to change that name frequently.
Who Used MSN Messenger in the Late 2000s?
Answer, almost nobody. Skype launched in 2003, along with a variety of other instant messaging platforms. Microsoft retired this service in 2013 and, because I’m supposedly old as the hills now, I remember it falling out of favour as early as 2006. By 2009 it faced many competitors as Web 2.0 emerged.
As you pick apart this man’s story, it seems more ludicrous. There are many more holes to pock in the Dan Wootton affair, but I don’t want to overwhelm you. What’s most important is this message:
Matthew Steeples in the abovementioned stream made is very clear that he doesn’t care what people think about what we says. That’s fine, Matthew. That’s fine, reader. I don’t care that you don’t care. Nobody cares about anything anymore, and that’s just fine. But you have a bigger problem than what other humans care about – the Truth. The great organising principle of the universe. Whenever a person or creature is living outside of the truth, they’re treading on dangerous ice – and when they show the Deadly Sins of Pride, Boasting, and Wrath, you’re sure that their fall is coming soon. It’s Pride that points the finger and says “HE is the devil of the day! Burn him!”, forgetting all of your own transgressions. It’s Boasting that points the finger and says “I’m better than that!” It’s Wrath that points the finger and says “BURN THE WITCH!” so that your sins and those of your brothers will be expunged by their slaughter.
The critics of Dan Wootton don’t realise their hypocrisy. They hate him the alleged misuse of the powerful voice he had, causing misery to the innocent and provoking (or at least largely contributing to) the suicide of a woman – judgments he has made on these people without knowing the full facts of their circumstances and their internal emotional lives, not caring what the consequences were. Behold, this oh-so-noble and pure mass of people, speaking as one in condemnation about a man, based on rumours and face-value judgments of him, ready to commit him to the sacrificial pyre so they can feel better about themselves. Let me tell you – I know myself and I know thousands of you, and none of us are Jesus or Buddha. None of us escape this world pure. We’ve done things and sold parts of our soul. Dan just happened to sell more of his soul than I reckon he intended to, but it doesn’t make him a nonce.
Let’s hold ourselves to a journalistic standard – whether you’re Dan Wootton, Matthew Steeples, or a Twitter user with 100 followers. What you say matters. When you speak, you’re adding your voice to a collective, whether it’s a majority or a minority. And when you see the majority swim in one direction without question, stop to think and re-evaluate the evidence, and speak out if you have doubts about the dominant narrative. That’s journalism.