07 Feb CAROLINE FLACK’S EX-FIANCÉ ADMITS TO HARASSING GB NEWS PRESENTER DAN WOOTTON
The former fiancé of the late TV presenter Caroline Flack has been jailed for four months for harassing GB News presenter and MailOnline columnist Dan Wootton by accusing him of being a murderer and a sex offender.
Andrew Brady, 31, a former contestant on shows The Apprentice and Celebrity Big Brother, was briefly engaged to Flack in 2018. Flack, The X-Factor and Love Island presenter, committed suicide in 2020.
Brady had originally faced the more serious charge of putting Wootton in fear of violence. He had pleaded not guilty, and the case was set for a trial before Christmas. It had to be halted due to legal problems, and Brady subsequently agreed to change his plea, admitting on Tuesday to an alternative, less serious charge of harassment.
The prosecution’s case was not opened, and details of the offences were not set out in court. However, the charge was read out by the court clerk, which revealed that Brady used WhatsApp, social media and video platforms to send threats and abusive messages to Wootton as part of a campaign of harassment between February and April last year.
Sheffield Crown Court heard how the campaign started around a year after Flack’s death on 15 February 2020, and included Brady comparing Wootton to convicted sex offender Harvey Weinstein, saying he ‘felt like getting rid of him once and for all today’, and that ‘matters should be settled by violence’, inviting his social media followers to assist him in his crusade and repeatedly stating an intention to end Wootton’s career.
Judge Jeremy Richardson QC told Brady: ‘I am pleased that this case has, at last, been resolved… You must move on with your life, it is hoped to sunnier uplands’. The judge jailed Brady for four months, but noted that he would be released in the ‘very near future’ given the time he has already spent on remand. Brady was also handed a 10-year restraining order banning him from contacting or approaching Wootton.
The criminal offence of harassment is set out at s.2, Protection from Harassment Act 1997: it carries a maximum prison term of six months.
The Act also provides for a civil remedy, whereby a claimant can seek an injunction and damages over a harassing course of conduct. Under s.7 of the Act, such conduct can include ‘speech’, meaning that harassment claims can be sometimes be brought successfully alongside actions for defamation or misuse of private information. In theory, this means that a harassment claim could be brought against a media publisher. However, successful harassment actions against the media are rare: the courts have emphasised that in general, press criticism, even where it is robust, does not fall within the ordinary meaning of harassment.