News 1 September 2021

Piers Morgan Wins Ofcom Complaint Case Over Controversial Meghan Markle Comments

1 September 2021

Piers Morgan has been cleared by media regulator Ofcom over his outburst towards Meghan Markle on Good Morning Britain, which led to him quitting the show.

As well as receiving over 57,000 complaints from the public, Ofcom also received a complaint from the Duke and Duchess of Sussex after Piers stated that he didn’t believe what Meghan said during her interview with Oprah Winfrey.

Today, Ofcom have cleared Piers in a 97-page ruling, saying that although his comments were “potentially harmful and offensive”, GMB did not breach the broadcasting code.

The ruling reads: “This was a finely-balanced decision. Mr Morgan’s comments were potentially harmful and offensive to viewers, and we recognise the strong public reaction to them. But we also took full account of freedom of expression.

“Under our rules, broadcasters can include controversial opinions as part of legitimate debate in the public interest, and the strong challenge to Mr Morgan from other contributors provided important context for viewers.

“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.”

In its conclusion, Ofcom added: “The Interview between the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and Oprah Winfrey contained serious allegations and it was legitimate for this Programme to discuss and scrutinise those claims including their veracity.

“Ofcom is clear that, consistent with freedom of expression, Mr Morgan was entitled to say he disbelieved the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s allegations and to hold and express strong views that rigorously challenged their account.

“The Code allows for individuals to express strongly held and robustly argued views, including those that are potentially harmful or highly offensive, and for broadcasters to include these in their programming.

“The restrictions of such views would, in our view, be an unwarranted and chilling restriction of freedom of expression both of the broadcaster and the audience.”

In the in-depth interview with Oprah which aired in March, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry made allegations of racism against the royal family, with Meghan also revealing that her mental health became so bad she “didn’t want to be alive any more”.

The day after, Piers said on GMB he didn’t “believe a word she said”, which sparked 57,793 Ofcom complaints – the highest in the regulator’s history. He also walked off set after an exchange of words with fellow presenter Alex Beresford and later quit the show.

Piers has since reacted to news of Ofcom’s ruling, tweeting: “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?”

[Image by DFree via Shutterstock]