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Fox News Fires Ed Henry Over Sexual Misconduct Claim

Fox News has fired Ed Henry, one of the network’s most prominent Washington-based journalists, after a former employee at the cable news channel accused him of sexual misconduct, the network said on Wednesday.

In a memo to staff, Fox News leadership said it received a complaint last week alleging that Mr. Henry had engaged in “willful sexual misconduct in the workplace years ago.” The network retained an outside law firm to review the claim.

“Based on investigative findings, Ed has been terminated,” the network’s chief executive, Suzanne Scott, and its president and executive editor, Jay Wallace, wrote in the memo.

A lawyer for Mr. Henry, Catherine Foti, said on Wednesday evening that the anchor denied the claim against him.

“Ed Henry denies the allegations referenced in the Fox announcement and is confident that he will be vindicated after a full hearing in an appropriate forum,” Ms. Foti wrote in a statement.

Mr. Henry’s abrupt departure was an unfortunate echo of Fox News’s past struggles with inappropriate workplace behavior by star personnel. Its founder, Roger E. Ailes, and the prime-time star Bill O’Reilly were both forced from the network after multiple accusations of sexual misconduct.

Mr. Henry, 48, who arrived from CNN in 2011, was a former chief White House correspondent at Fox News, known for his dapper appearance and aggressive coverage of President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. He was also a popular figure in Washington media circles, serving as president of the White House Correspondents’ Association and earning plaudits in 2018 for a tough interview with Scott Pruitt, President Trump’s environmental protection chief, who later resigned.

Until last week, Mr. Henry was a co-anchor for “America’s Newsroom,” a morning newscast. He was suspended last Thursday after Fox News received the complaint.

The employee is represented by Douglas H. Wigdor, a prominent lawyer who has sued Fox News on behalf of several employees in misconduct cases. Mr. Wigdor declined to comment further on Wednesday about his client’s allegations or about Mr. Henry’s dismissal.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Henry’s publisher, William Morrow, said on Wednesday that it would no longer release the anchor’s upcoming memoir, “Saving Colleen.” The book, about Mr. Henry’s decision to donate a part of his liver to his sister, had been scheduled for September. William Morrow is a subsidiary of HarperCollins, which, like Fox News, is controlled by the Murdoch family.

In 2016, Mr. Henry was forced to take a leave from Fox News after several tabloids reported that he had engaged in an extramarital relationship with a woman he had met in Las Vegas. At the time, Mr. Ailes said the episode raised “serious questions about Ed’s lack of judgment,” and Mr. Henry was stripped of his assignments covering the White House and Mrs. Clinton’s presidential campaign.

Mr. Henry returned to the network a few months later as its chief national correspondent. He also filled in as a co-anchor on several weekend shows before being promoted in December to a full-time anchor slot at “America’s Newsroom.”

Fox News has described efforts to overhaul its human resources department and change its workplace culture. In her memo on Wednesday, Ms. Scott said she was announcing Mr. Henry’s dismissal “in an effort toward full transparency given the many actions we have taken to improve the culture here over the last four years.”

“We will continue striving to maintain a safe and inclusive workplace for all employees,” she added.

Fox News declined to identify the law firm that had investigated the claims against Mr. Henry. Ms. Scott wrote in her memo that the firm had not previously represented the network in litigation or internal investigations.

Mr. Henry’s former co-anchor, Sandra Smith, announced his firing on “America’s Newsroom” on Wednesday, telling viewers, “After a recent claim and investigation involving sexual misconduct in the workplace, Ed has been terminated from Fox News.” A replacement anchor has not yet been named.

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