Morgan cleared over ‘Princess Pinnochio’ outburst
Piers Morgan said he wouldn’t believe Meghan if she read the weather report
TV and newspaper journalist Piers Morgan has won the backing of Ofcom after he said he “didn’t believe a word” of what Meghan Markle told Oprah Winfrey during her television interview earlier this year.
Mr Morgan suffered a huge viewer backlash and was forced to quit his job as an anchor of ITV breakfast show Good Morning Britain after he challenged the Duchess of Sussex’s claims that she endured royal racism and had contemplated suicide.
The Duchess was among a record 57,000 people who complained to the UK broadcasting regulator over Mr Morgan’s comments.
Today Ofcom cleared ITV and Morgan, calling attempts to silence him a “chilling restriction on freedom of expression”.
It said: “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’.”
During the Oprah interview, the former Suits actress told tens of millions of people that an unnamed royal was racist towards Archie, said that the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, made her cry in a row over bridesmaids dresses at her wedding to Prince Harry. She accused Buckingham Palace of ignoring her pleas for help when she was pregnant and suicidal.
Afterwards, Mr Morgan told viewers of Good Morning Britain: “I’m sorry, I don’t believe a word she says. I wouldn’t believe her if she read me a weather report. The fact she has expressed an onslaught against our Royal Family is contemptible’.”
Today he said: “This is a resounding victory for free speech and a resounding defeat for Princess Pinocchio. In light of this decision – do I get my job back?”
Mr Morgan resigned from the programme within 48 hours of the 7 March Oprah interview after he refused to apologise for what he called his “honestly held opinions”.
His departure is said to have cost ITV an estimated 790,000 viewers and there were calls from his supporters demanding he was reinstated. Ofcom received 802 messages expressing support for Mr Morgan and objecting to his removal from GMB, but these complaints were outside the regulator’s remit.
Meghan Markle interviewed by Oprah
ITV chief executive Dame Carolyn McCall is now said to be under pressure to explain why she tried to suppress the presenter’s free speech and did not defend him.
Mr Morgan commented: “I was reliably informed recently that Meghan Markle wrote directly to my ITV boss Dame Carolyn McCall the night before I was forced out, demanding my head on a plate.
“Apparently, she stressed that she was writing to Dame Carolyn personally because they were both women and mothers – a nauseating playing of the gender and maternity card if ever there was one. What has the world come to when a whiny fork-tongued actress can dictate who presents a morning television news programme?”
Today the regulator announced that the programme had not breached the broadcasting code.
In a 26-page summary of its 97 page report, Ofcom said that the programme ‘contained statements about suicide and mental health’ which could be “harmful and highly offensive” but that there was “sufficient challenge to provide adequate protection and context to its viewers”.
It continued: “We also considered that the comments about race in the programme could have been potentially highly offensive, but that the comments were sufficiently contextualised.
“Therefore, our Decision is that the programme did not breach the Ofcom Broadcasting Code.”