UK regulator clears Piers Morgan over Meghan Markle comments

UK regulator rules on the most complained about moment in its history.

Controversial British presenter Piers Morgan has been cleared of breaching the broadcasting code over his comments around the Duchess of Sussex.

Following Prince Harry & Meghan Markle’s Oprah interview, Morgan made dismissive comments about Meghan Markle’s claims to have had issues with her mental health. He stormed off the set of Good Morning Britain and was fired for refusing to apologise, sparking international headlines.

In March, more than 57,000 complaints were received by UK regulator OfCom -the most complained about moment in the watchdog’s history.

This week it concluded Morgan’s comments were “potentially harmful and offensive” but said it also “took full account of freedom of expression”.

In a summary of their “finely balanced” decision, Ofcom said: “While we acknowledged that Mr Morgan’s questions about the nature of racism had the potential to be highly offensive to some viewers, the conversations about race and racism in this programme provided open debate on the issues raised by the interview.

“We also considered that the programme allowed for an important discussion to be had on the nature and impact of racism. ITV had clearly anticipated that racial issues would be discussed at length as part of the coverage of the interview and had taken steps to ensure context could be provided during the discussions.”

But it also added, “Nonetheless, we’ve reminded ITV to take greater care around content discussing mental health and suicide in future. ITV might consider the use of timely warnings or signposting of support services to ensure viewers are properly protected.”

Following the ruling, Morgan tweeted: “I’m delighted OfCom has endorsed my right to disbelieve the Duke & Duchess of Sussex’s incendiary claims to Oprah Winfrey, many of which have proven to be untrue. This is a resounding victory for free speech and a resounding defeat for Princess Pinocchios. Do I get my job back?”

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2 Responses

  1. It’s important that shows present a wide range of views.
    It’s a bad thing to exclude someone because they are wrong or just because they may offend someone.
    It’s a good thing that other panelists or commentators can point out errors in people’s opinion. That’s healthy for a society.
    There will always be a grey area where it could be argued someone’s opinion could incite violence or even suicide. Excluding someone should be very exceptional.
    How entertaining are the short clips of Pauline Hanson on HYBPA? And some want her banned!

  2. Important to clarify that it is not Piers Morgan they cleared, it is the programme – and they state in their judgement that it is due to co-host Susanna Reid and Royal Correspondant Chris Ship challenging his comments that the show is not in breech.

    “We were concerned about the potential for harm that could arise from Mr Morgan’s treatment of the Duchess of Sussex’s suicidal thoughts, and the limited protections put in place by ITV, given that suicide is a significant public health concern. We were particularly concerned about Mr Morgan’s approach to such an important and serious issue and his apparent disregard for the seriousness of anyone expressing suicidal thoughts. Had it not been for the extensive challenge offered throughout the Programme by Ms Reid and Mr Ship, we would have been seriously concerned.”

    Piers comments themselves were labelled “potentially harmful and highly offensive”.

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