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01st Sep 2021

Piers Morgan wins Ofcom complaint over Meghan Markle comments

Steve Hopkins

Ofcom has said that Piers Morgan was entitled to share his opinion about Markle’s interview.

Piers Morgan has won his Ofcom complaint relating to the Meghan Markle furore that led to him quitting Good Morning Britain and has celebrated by writing a column about it.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex complained to Ofcom after Morgan said he did not believe Markle’s claims, in an Oprah interview, that she experienced suicidal thoughts and was given no help by the Palace when she sought help.

Morgan had said he “didn’t believe a word” of what Markle told Oprah.

The broadcasting regulator ruled on Wednesday that Morgan was entitled to share his opinions.

Morgan tweeted the outcome as though it were breaking news, then followed it soon after with an announcement that he had written a column about his “vindication”.

“Ofcom’s vindication of me is a resounding victory for freedom of speech and a resounding defeat for Princess Pinocchios who think we should all be compelled to believe every fork-tongued word they say,” Morgan wrote.

Ofcom said that while Morgan’s comments were ‘potentially harmful and offensive’, GMB did not breach the broadcasting code.

The ruling read: “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.”

Ofcom’s conclusion in its report stated: “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’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 restriction of such views would, in our view, be an unwarranted and chilling restriction on freedom of expression both of the broadcaster and the audience.”

Meghan was among the 57,000 people who complained to Ofcom about Morgan’s comment.

Within 48 hours of the March 7 Oprah interview, Morgan quit GMB after refusing to apologise for his comments.

Read the full Ofcom ruling here.