Ofcom CLEARS Piers Morgan and GMB over Meghan and Harry's Oprah show
Ofcom CLEARS Piers Morgan over his criticism of Meghan Markle: ITV CEO under pressure after watchdog calls attempts to silence him a ‘chilling restriction on freedom of expression’ after he said he ‘didn’t believe a word’ of her claims in Oprah interview
- Piers Morgan dismissed Meghan Markle’s claims about suffering racism and being suicidal as a serving royal
- He said: ‘I’m sorry, I don’t believe a word she says. I wouldn’t believe her if she read me a weather report’
- More than 57,000 people including the Duchess of Sussex complained to Ofcom about the GMB presenter
- Regulator rejected complaints on racism, being unsuitable to children, as well as suicide and mental health
- Ofcom has ruled the programmes on March 8 and 9 ‘contained sufficient challenge’ and protected viewers
- ITV’s CEO Dame Carolyn McCall is under pressure to explain why she failed to defend the star broadcaster
- Mr Morgan claims that Meghan contacted his boss and implored action as both were ‘women and mothers’
Piers Morgan was today sensationally cleared by Ofcom who backed his right to free speech after he said on Good Morning Britain that he ‘didn’t believe a word’ of what Meghan Markle told Oprah Winfrey.
The UK’s broadcasting watchdog called attempts to silence the MailOnline columnist a ‘chilling restriction on freedom of expression’ after the Duchess of Sussex was among a wave of people who complained that his questioning of her account of royal racism and suicidal thoughts was ‘harmful’ and ‘offensive’ to viewers.
In a column for MailOnline today, Mr Morgan said: ‘I’m delighted that Ofcom has so emphatically supported my right to disbelieve the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s incendiary claims to Oprah Winfrey, many of which have since been proved to be untrue. This is a resounding victory for free speech and a resounding defeat for Princess Pinocchios. In light of this decision – do I get my job back?’
ITV’s left-leaning former Guardian chief CEO Dame Carolyn McCall is under pressure to explain why she forced him out hours after the Duchess of Sussex complained to her directly and allegedly demanded his ‘head on a plate’ because ‘they were both women and mothers’ in a ‘nauseating playing of the gender and maternity card’, Mr Morgan said in his column.
Another critic declared: ‘Meghan made ITV roll over’ at a time when Dame Carolyn had just signed off on the broadcaster’s £1million deal to show the Oprah interview 24 hours after it was broadcast in the US.
Within 48 hours of the Oprah interview on March 7 this year, Mr Morgan was forced to quit GMB after he refused to apologise for his ‘honestly held opinions’, costing ITV around 790,000 viewers and millions more in advertising revenue with the ratings gap between GMB and rival BBC Breakfast still growing. On the day Piers quit, GMB was in the lead.
Meghan, 40, was among the 57,000 people who went to Ofcom after an orchestrated social media campaign spearheaded by his ‘woke’ critics including several Labour MPs, who accused him of racism and sexism and asked the regulator to consider if his statements about suicide and mental health were ‘harmful and highly offensive’ and breached Britain’s broadcasting code.
Other complainants to Ofcom accused Piers of failing to be ‘duly impartial’, ‘misrepresenting facts’ and ‘mocking’ Meghan’s American accent. Complaints that his views on GMB on March 8 and March 9 were unsuitable for children were also thrown out.
Ofcom today found no rules were breached and backed Mr Morgan’s right to ‘rigorously challenge’ the Duchess’s account of suffering suicidal thoughts and claims she experienced racism at the hands of the Royal Family. The decision has led to a flurry of calls demanding he is given his job back, with fans using the hashtag #bringbackpiers claiming the show is ‘dying a slow death without him’.
In complete vindication for the journalist, 56, Ofcom ruled: ‘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’.
And in a damning indictment of his former bosses and the 50,000-plus people who complained, the watchdog found: ‘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.
‘Overall, Ofcom considered that there is a high public interest value in broadcasting open and frank discussions about race and racism, as long as they comply with the Code. We also considered that 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’.
Piers Morgan and Good Morning Britain have been cleared of breaching broadcasting standards over a heated debate about Harry and Meghan’s Oprah interview where he said that he didn’t ‘believe a word she says’ on March 8 (pictured)
More than 57,000 people – including Meghan – contacted the regulator after the former Good Morning Britain presenter said he didn’t believe the Duchess’s claims about experiencing suicidal thoughts when she lived at Kensington Palace
GMB overtook BBC Breakfast in its ratings war on the day Piers Morgan resigned – and the ratings gap appears to be growing. BBC Breakfast is the yellow line, GMB is the blue
The 56-year-old host then shocked viewers by walking off camera during a heated on-air row with weatherman Alex Beresford, before quitting the programme hours later after refusing to apologise
What Ofcom said about allegations that Piers Morgan’s opinions about Meghan Markle’s Oprah interview were ‘harmful and offensive’:
‘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 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.
However, in instances where such viewpoints carry a potential for harm or offence, it is the responsibility of the Licensee to ensure that adequate protection from harm and sufficient context is provided’.
Among the other 57,000 complaints, not upheld by Ofcom, were:
- The Programme incited hatred and racism;
- Comments made by Piers Morgan were not duly impartial;
- Susanna Reid did not do enough to challenge Mr Morgan’s views;
- Mr Morgan was only giving his opinion, which is a right under freedom of expression;
- The content misrepresented facts by selectively showing newspaper front pages;
- Mr Morgan mocked the American accent, which is offensive;
- The combative tone of the programme was not suitably scheduled for child viewers
Reacting to today’s ruling Mr Morgan told MailOnline: ‘As OFCOM says, to have stifled my right to express strongly held and robustly argued views would have been an ‘unwarranted and chilling restriction on freedom of expression. In light of this decision – do I get my job back?’
He added: ‘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?’
In what is being hailed as a victory for free speech, today’s Ofcom report found:
- The Interview between the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and Oprah Winfrey contained serious allegations and it was legitimate for Good Morning Britain to discuss and scrutinise those claims including their veracity;
- Piers 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 restriction of Mr Morgan’s views would be an unwarranted and chilling restriction on freedom of expression both of ITV and the audience;
Reacting to today’s ruling, ITV News royal editor Chris Ship, who appeared on the shows in question, tweeted: ‘So what does ITV do about Piers Morgan’s job at Good Morning Britain now Ofcom has cleared him and the TV network of a breach of the broadcasting code?’
Royal biographer Angela Levin, author of 2018 book Harry: Conversations with the Prince, said today: ‘Marvellous result from Ofcom that Harry and Meghan’s interview with Oprah can be criticised. Upbeat for freedom of expression. I also wonder if Piers Morgan will get his job back.’
Royal expert Robert Jobson said: ‘Well done Piers Morgan on the Ofcom decision. A victory for common sense and free speech.’
One Tory MP welcomed the decision and said: ‘It is a question of free speech. He [Piers] shouldn’t be censored for what he says. I think the views he expresses, many people in the country would probably agree with.
‘It is common sense: You don’t have to like what he says but he has a right to say it.’
They added: ‘I would be extremely nervous if a regulator was stopping people on TV saying what they thought.’
Pressure on ITV’s ‘leftie luvvie’ £900,000-a-year CEO Dame Carolyn McCall who defended Love Island and Jeremy Kyle – but not Piers Morgan
Left-leaning former Guardian boss Dame Carolyn McCall joined ITV as chief executive on £900,000-a-year in January 2018.
As well as earning a near seven figure salary, she is eligible for an annual bonus to a maximum of 180 per cent of salary, a long-term incentive plan up to 265 per cent of salary and a generous 15 per cent pension allowance.
The mother-of-three – one of just seven female FTSE 100 bosses – was with easyJet for seven years after previously running the Guardian Media Group.
Gordon Brown and Labour handed her an OBE for services to women in business in 2008 and won a Damehood in 2016 while boss of budget airline easyJet.
At the time rival Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary dismissed her as ‘some old media luvvie’ due to her lack of airline experience.
Dame Carolyn, worked her way up in the media company after starting as a research planner and became a close ally of former Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger.
The pair built up the paper’s website but were criticised for failing to make it profitable.
The pair built up the paper’s website but were criticised for failing to make it profitable.
Since joining ITV she has also been rocked by a series of scandals, including the cancellation of the Jeremy Kyle Show after a suicide.
She was dragged before MPs last year (pictured) and insisted guests gave ‘informed consent’ and knew the nature of the programme they were appearing on.
When accused of broadcasting a ‘human freak show’, she said: ‘It was adults, they went through a screening and vetting process, they went through quite a lot of hoops before they went on that show.’
Ms McCall also said she would be comfortable with her children appearing on Love Island.
She left easyJet after Adam Crozier stepped down as ITV boss at the end of June of 2017. Ms McCall has also held a non-executive director post at Burberry, sat on the board of the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and is a Trustee at the Royal Academy.
This morning’s ruling is highly damaging and embarrassing to ITV who face questions over its failure to protect the free speech of its star presenter, who quit 48 hours later after the former Suits actress complained directly to chief executive Carolyn McCall who ordered him to apologise.
The Duchess of Sussex told tens of millions of people that an unnamed royal was racist towards Archie, said Kate Middleton made her cry in a row over bridesmaids dresses and accused Buckingham Palace of ignoring her pleas for help when she was pregnant and suicidal.
In the hours after the interview aired in the US, which ‘exploded’ Harry and Meghan’s relationship with the Royal Family, Mr Morgan told Good Morning Britain viewers: ‘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’. And on her claims she told palace officials she ‘didn’t want to be alive anymore’, Piers asked: ‘Who did you go to? What did they say?’.
Mr Morgan also said on the breakfast news show, whose ratings he transformed during his six years as presenter, that Meghan had ‘scripted in’ discussions on mental health and race that could ‘be played against the Royal Family’.
At the time of the interview, The Times reported that palace staff had accused Meghan of being a bully.
Mr Morgan said: ‘Her camp immediately said: ‘They can’t be believed. Those victims can’t be believed’. And yet we’re supposed to believe everything Meghan Markle now says about her own terrible ordeal of bullying and racism and all the rest of it? You can’t have it both ways. We’re not allowed to believe the apparent victims of her own bullying, but we have to believe everything she says’.
More than 57,000 viewers complained to Ofcom after the presenter’s gave his view on Meghan’s performance. Hours later ITV executive Kevin Lygo is said to have told off Piers before the channel’s chief executive Ms McCall, the former boss of the left-wing Guardian newspaper, sided with the duchess in a public statement and said: ‘I completely believe what she [Meghan] said’.
The following day he then shocked viewers by walking off camera during a heated on-air row with weatherman Alex Beresford who accused him of unfairly ‘trashing’ Meghan. Piers quit the programme hours later.
Mr Morgan is understood to have again been ordered to apologise – but he refused and quit instead saying he had the right to tell viewers his ‘honestly held opinions’ and declaring: ‘Freedom of speech is a hill I’m happy to die on’.
Ofcom’s ruling 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. 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.
‘Overall, Ofcom considered that there is a high public interest value in broadcasting open and frank discussions about race and racism, as long as they comply with the Code. As set out above, we also considered that 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.
‘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
‘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’.
Piers Morgan said his win was a ‘resounding victory for free speech’ and asked if he would be getting his GMB job back
Fans have urged ITV to ‘do the right thing’ and get the star back on their show
Mr Morgan’s former co-host Susanna Reid retweeted the Ofcom result today in tacit support of her friend
Ms Reid (left today) and ITV Royal Editor Chris Ship (right) were also cited in today’s report as challenging Mr Morgan and giving context in the debate on the Oprah interview
How Piers Morgan was forced off GMB after his criticism of Meghan and Harry’s Oprah interview
Sunday March 7 2021:
1am GMT: Harry and Meghan’s interview with Oprah Winfrey is broadcast – rocking the Royal Family with allegations of racism towards Archie, claims they ignored the Duchess of Sussex’s suicidal feelings and that they were cut off financially by Prince Charles
Monday March 8:
6am: Hours after the broadcast in the US, Piers Morgan hosted Good Morning Britain.
Reacting to the show he said: ‘This is a two-hour trashathon of our royal family, of the monarchy and everything our queen has worked so hard for and it’s all been done while Prince Philip lies in hospital.
‘They trash everybody. They basically make out our Royal family are a bunch of white supremacists by this race bombshell. They didn’t name any which one it was, they just throw it out there so it could be anybody. Well, you better say it fast.
‘Who did you go to? What did they say to you? I’m sorry, I don’t believe a word she said, Meghan Markle. I wouldn’t believe it if she read me weather report. The fact that she’s fired up this onslaught against our Royal family I think is contemptible,’ he said.
9pm: Millions in the UK watch the show when it is shown on ITV, who paid £1million to broadcast it.
Tuesday March 9
8am: Piers Morgan storms off the Good Morning Britain set live on air after the show’s weatherman Alex Beresford accused him of unfairly ‘trashing’ Meghan Markle.
They had been discussing the Sussexes’ bombshell interview with Oprah, where the couple accused the Royal Family of racism.
Morgan, stood up and said: ‘Ok, I’m done with this. Sorry. You can trash me mate but not on my own show. See you later’. As the GMB host marched off, Beresford persisted: ‘You know what that’s diabolical behaviour. That’s pathetic’.
After a hasty ad break, Morgan returned and said: ‘What we need to do Alex is talk to each other in a civilised manner given we work on the same show on the same team. You launching into a pretty personally derogatory monologue on one of your colleagues probably isn’t one of the best ways to go about it’.
1pm: TV boss Carolyn McCall publicly refused to deny Piers Morgan could lose his job on Good Morning Britain over his comments about Meghan Markle. She said: ‘We are dealing with that as we speak’. Dame Carolyn also threw her support behind Meghan as she ‘completely believe what she said’ about her mental health.
6pm: Piers Morgan quits Good Morning Britain with immediate effect having refused to apologise because of freedom of speech.
The episode on March 8 became the most complained about moment in the watchdog’s history, with more than 50,000 people complaining.
And later it emerged that Meghan had made a formal complaint to ITV about Morgan.
Morgan’s comments were criticised by mental health charity Mind and Ofcom has said a significant number of the complaints claimed his remarks could potentially dissuade viewers experiencing suicidal thoughts of their own from seeking help, for fear of not being believed or taken seriously.
Viewers accused Mr Morgan of ‘harmful rhetoric’ that ‘made a mockery of suicide’ and of ‘belittling’ the Duchess of Sussex’s personal account of experiences of racism.
But today the regulator announced that the programme had not breached the broadcasting code.
In a 26-page decision summary, 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.’
Mr Morgan no longer works on GMB, having quit the ITV show on the evening of March 9 shortly after Ofcom launched its investigation under its harm and offence rules. His departure was announced by ITV’s director of television Kevin Lygo.
Since then Good Morning Britain’s ratings have plunged as the show has failed to find a replacement host with a string of stand-in appearances.
The ruling by Ofcom puts CEO Carolyn McCall – formerly of the left-wing Guardian newspaper – under pressure to explain why she did not stick by Mr Morgan, a decision which has cost the station millions.
The report covers Good Morning Britain’s shows on the mornings of March 8 and 9 which were presented by Mr Morgan and co-host Susanna Reid, with the first episode coming hours after the Oprah interview with the Sussexes aired.
It focuses heavily on part of the opening discussion from March 8 in which the hosts play a clip of Meghan talking about having suicidal thoughts.
In the CBS interview, which also aired on ITV later, the Duchess of Sussex tells Oprah ‘I just didn’t want to be alive anymore’, that these suicidal thoughts were ‘very, very clear’ and ‘I needed to go somewhere to get help’.
Going back to the studio for reaction, Mr Morgan responded to the clip saying: ‘I don’t believe a word she says, Meghan Markle. I wouldn’t believe it if she read me the weather report.’
Ms Reid hit back at Mr Morgan, saying: ‘Well that’s a pretty unsympathetic reaction to someone who has expressed those thoughts,’ adding that the comments could not be ‘brushed over’.
Ofcom said Mr Morgan appeared to ‘disbelieve’ what Meghan had said on having suicidal thoughts, adding that they had ‘concerns audience members may have been discouraged from seeking help about their mental health’.
However in their ruling, the regulator said Mr Morgan’s opinion was clearly challenged in interventions by Ms Reid and ITV’s Royal Editor Chris Ship.
ITV faces backlash after Ofcom cleared Piers Morgan for his criticism of Meghan Markle’s Oprah interview as calls grow for presenter to return to GMB
‘Woke’ bosses at ITV were criticised today after Ofcom ruled Piers Morgan did not breach its broadcasting code with his criticism of Meghan Markle.
The regulator cleared Mr Morgan over his comments about the Duchess of Sussex, which sparked more than 50,000 complaints, following her Oprah Winfrey interview.
And ITV were today accused of ‘ruining their own hit breakfast show’ six months after the row in March which saw him quit the programme after six years.
Others said it was ‘very disappointing’ that Meghan ‘made ITV roll over with one phone call’ after she made a formal complaint about the broadcast.
Viewers called on ITV to ‘bring back Piers’, urging them to ‘see sense’ and ‘do the right thing’ – while MailOnline columnist Dan Wootton led criticism of the channel.
He said today: ‘Piers Morgan rightly cleared by Ofcom. Freedom of speech wins the day! And woke ITV ruined their own hit breakfast show in the process.
‘Wouldn’t want to be Harry waking up next to Meghan in Montecito in the morning when she picks up her phone.’
Former Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie said: ‘Great news for Piers Morgan as Ofcom clear him over his Meghan Truths on GMB. He told it like it is. Bloody nose for CEO Carolyn McCall who forced him out. Well said Ofcom for backing free speech.’
Presenter India Willoughby added: ‘At the end of the day, Piers Morgan was right. The fact Meghan MarkUp made ITV roll over with one phone call – very disappointing.’
Toby Young, of the Free Speech Union, told talkRADIO today: ‘The idea that anyone who criticises Meghan Markle must be racist and that any criticism of her is a form of racism is just ridiculous.’
Ofcom said it approached ITV for a comment on their preliminary view that the show was not in breach of the code, but the corporation declined to comment.
In concluding remarks, Ofcom added: ‘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.’
Ofcom said today that Piers Morgan’s comments on the Duchess of Sussex’s interview with Oprah Winfrey were ‘potentially harmful and offensive’ but ruled Good Morning Britain was not in breach the broadcasting code.
An Ofcom spokesman said: ‘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 also received 802 messages that expressed support for Mr Morgan and objected to his ‘removal’ from Good Morning Britain.
Ofcom added that they approached ITV for a comment on their preliminary view that the programme was not in breach of the code, but the corporation declined to comment.
Mr Morgan however gave a personal response to the preliminary decision, saying that views that ‘had the potential to be offensive also had the potential not to be’ and it would not be right for Ofcom to ‘shut down’ alternative points of view.
He added it was ‘perfectly reasonable’ for a journalist to ask a question regarding discussions in bi-racial families about the skin colour of an unborn child in an appropriate context – a reference to Harry and Meghan’s claim that one royal asked ‘how dark’ their child’s skin would be.
Within days of Mr Morgan quitting the show, nearly 200,000 people had signed petitions demanding he be reinstated to his presenter role.
Mr Morgan responded to the soaring petitions on Twitter, writing that although the support came as a ‘pleasant surprise’ he would not be returning to GMB.
It later emerged that Ms Markle had herself made a formal complaint to Ofcom about the TV host after he dismissed her account of suffering suicidal thoughts and experiencing racism at the hands of the royal family.
The interview in which she made the claims to interviewer Oprah Winfrey received 4,398 complaints.
Paul Farmer, chief executive of the mental health charity Mind, which had previously criticised Mr Morgan’s comments, said today: ‘Today’s ruling by Ofcom found that, although Good Morning Britain was not in breach of its broadcasting rules, Piers Morgan’s comments during the programme were potentially harmful and offensive to viewers.
‘Ofcom’s ruling also stated the need for broadcasters to take particular care over how mental health as a subject is presented to audiences, so as ‘not to convey a message that sharing experiences of poor mental health could be met with disbelief, derision, or a lack of sympathy’.
Since Mr Morgan’s departure, Good Morning Britain’s ratings have plunged as the show has failed to find a successful replacement host with a string of stand-in appearances
PIERS MORGAN: 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 – now, do I get my GMB job back?
‘Everyone is in favour of free speech,’ said Winston Churchill, ‘but some people’s idea of it is that they are free to say what they like, but if anyone else says anything back, that is an outrage.’
He could have been talking about Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle, two people who think they have both the right to drop endless incendiary unsubstantiated bombshells about their family AND the right to censor and silence anyone who dares to disbelieve or challenge them.
Back in March, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex spent two hours spray-gunning the Royals to Oprah Winfrey in an explosive interview on prime-time US television.
They claimed a member of the Royal Family had been racist about their son Archie, and that their little boy had been banned from being a Prince because of his skin colour.
Back in March, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex spent two hours spray-gunning the Royals to Oprah Winfrey in an explosive interview on prime-time US television, writes PIERS MORGAN
Hours later on GMB, Piers said he didn’t believe a word Meghan Markle said triggering furious protest from her fans of the couple. Today OFCOM announced that they had rejected all the complaints against Piers
Meghan also claimed that she told several senior Palace officials she was feeling suicidal, but they told her she couldn’t have any treatment because it would be bad for the royal brand.
Oh, and she stated as fact that she and Harry secretly got married three days before their official wedding, in a private ceremony conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury.
On ITV’s Good Morning Britain a few hours later, I said I didn’t believe a word Meghan Markle said.
This triggered a furious protest from fans of the couple who accused me of being a racist callous misogynist who was belittling Meghan’s ‘lived experience’ of mental health and racism.
But it was simpler than that: I just didn’t believe her.
Not least because it was immediately established that some of her more outlandish claims, like the secret wedding and Archie’s princely ban, were provable nonsense.
As the furore grew, a record number of 57,000 people, including Meghan Markle herself, complained about me to the UK TV government regulator OFCOM.
ITV’s Chief Executive, Dame Carolyn McCall, responded by saying that she believed Meghan’s mental health claims, and I was then told by my employers to either apologise for what I had said or leave the show with immediate effect.
I decided to leave.
As I explained in an article for the Mail on Sunday several weeks later: ‘I wasn’t going to apologise for disbelieving Meghan Markle, because the truth is that I don’t believe Meghan Markle. And in a free democratic society, I should be allowed not to believe someone, and to say that I don’t believe them. That, surely, is the very essence of freedom of speech? If I said I now believed Meghan, I would be lying to the audience, the very thing I’ve accused her of doing.’
Today, in a stunning verdict, OFCOM announced that they agreed with this argument, and rejected every single complaint against me.
Their report is lengthy and detailed, but in the end, it came down to an unequivocal and emphatic endorsement of my right to an opinion.
‘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,’ they declared, adding that their Broadcasting 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.’
It concluded: ‘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.’
Ironically, I would imagine that word will prompt a very chilly reaction from the self-satisfied Sussexes as they slurp kale smoothies in their California mansion over breakfast this morning.
Make no mistake, this is a watershed moment in the battle for free speech.
If OFCOM had found against me, that would have signalled the end of every UK TV journalist’s right to express any honestly held opinion on air lest it upset the likes of Meghan Markle.
The whole point of journalism is surely to question and challenge statements from public figures, particularly when no actual evidence is produced to support them?
Five months on from my sudden departure from GMB, at least 17 of Meghan and Harry’s claims in the Oprah interview have now been shown to be false or disingenuous.
The whole point of journalism is surely to question and challenge statements from public figures, particularly when no actual evidence is produced to support them? writes Piers
The poor old Archbishop of Canterbury was even forced to publicly deny he’d conducted a secret marriage ceremony because that would have been a criminal offence and he might have been sent to prison for it.
More pertinently, none of the couple’s most sensational and damaging statements about racism and mental health have yet been supported by a shred of evidence amid furious denials from the Royal Family.
So, my observation that I didn’t believe Meghan Markle is looking stronger by the day. And for the record, I still don’t believe her.
But that’s not really the point.
This is not about me, or Meghan Markle.
It’s about free speech and the right to have an opinion.
We now live in a woke-ravaged era where it’s become a punishable offence to say what you really think about almost anything for fear that someone, somewhere, will be offended.
This insidious ‘cancel culture’ as it’s been termed represents the most serious threat to democracy in my lifetime.
People all over the world are being shamed, vilified, and even fired from their jobs for expressing an opinion that the woke brigade don’t like.
Every day, social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook explode with self-righteous judgements handed down by the court of woke public opinion, and the consequence is that debate is being destroyed at the altar of political correctness in a way that would have Churchill turning in his grave.
This was a man who fought off the freedom-muzzling Nazis, for God’s sake!
Yet now people calling themselves ‘liberal’ are behaving like the worst kind of fascists.
That’s why this OFCOM ruling matters so much.
It was preposterous that I had to leave a job I loved because I didn’t believe a demonstrable liar.
But it happened because the corporate world has been cowed into surrendering to the woke mob whenever it bays for blood.
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?
So yes, I’m obviously delighted that OFCOM has supported my right to disbelieve the Sussexes’ lurid claims against the Royal Family, many of which have failed to stand up to even a scintilla of basic scrutiny of the kind that a woefully enabling Oprah should have conducted.
This is a resounding victory for free speech and a resounding defeat for Princess Pinocchios.
As OFCOM determined, to have restricted my right to disbelieve her and Harry would have been ‘chilling.’
And when Meghan and Harry, whose unofficially authorised biography is titled ‘Finding Freedom’, lick their failed censorship wounds today, I suggest they heed the words of George Orwell: ‘If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.’
Just one question remains: does this mean I get my job back?
Ofcom’s ruling in full
EXCLUSIVE: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s former Sussex Royal foundation still owes £78,500 to ‘not for profit enterprise’ despite couple raking in multi-million pound media deals
By Dan Sales
Meghan and Harry’s Sussex Royal foundation still owed a not-for-profit enterprise £78,500 – despite the couple raking in £118million in media deals.
Their former charity – which is currently in liquidation and renamed MWX – had still not paid off the cause, according to paperwork released today.
The creditor, whose identity is not known, made a claim for £213,000 to the foundation last year.
While Harry and Meghan paid it back £134,500 in the most recent financial period, documents published this week said the remainder was still outstanding.
When the Duke of Sussex started winding up the company last year he said all of its debts would be paid up in full in 12 months.
But it is understood the hold-up is down to the Charity Commission’s now-closed investigation into MWX.
The probe was over how it transferred £151,855 to Harry’s sustainable travel outfit Travalyst. Charity Commission investigators found it had done nothing wrong in May this year.
He and Meghan currently have deals with Netflix, Spotify and publishers worth an estimated £118million so would have personal funds available to the pay the amount if necessary.
Meghan and Harry’s Sussex Royal foundation changed its name and started being wound up
Since then the pair have been frequently in the spotlight, including in this Oprah interview
They have also signed deals with media giants Spotify, pictured her in a publicity video for it
Their Archewell Foundation has also been launched in America, promising ‘compassion in action’.
MWX’s liquidator Adam Stephens reports: ‘We have received claims totalling £213,000 from one creditor, being in relation to the grant due to a not-for-profit enterprise.
‘This claim has been admitted in full and part paid in the sum of £134,500 during the reporting period.
‘The charity has sufficient funds to settle the claim in full and final dividend is to be made shortly to pay the remaining balance.
‘There were sufficient funds to enable the claim received in the liquidation to be settled in full within 12 months of the liquidation.
‘However, during the liquidation period the Charity Commission requested information concerning the charity and this was provided.
‘The enquiries have now been finalised, HMRC has provided tax clearance and the final dividend will shortly be paid to the unsecured grant creditor.’
Accounts expert Rob Leach told MailOnline : ‘The company has admitted the claim in full and have paid just over half of it and they say they are going to pay the rest.
Previously Harry, Meghan, Kate and William had been involved in the Royal Foundation
The Sussex Royal logo for the charity, which incorporate the letters H and M in the design
‘It could even have been paid by now. This one creditor, they are entitled to a grant from the charity.
‘In liquidation you have to pay all your bills. As this is a voluntary liquidation they have enough to pay everyone.’
Last year the process to wind down MWX was started after the name change from Sussex Royal The Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
Documents filed at Companies House revealed Meghan and five other directors of the foundation had stepped down from their positions, leaving Prince Harry as the sole director.
Separate papers were filed announcing the ‘termination of appointment’ for six directors – HRH Duchess of Sussex, Gerald Tyrrell, Karen Blackett, Steven Cooper, Kirsty Jones and – Stefan Allesch-Taylor.
The terminations were all said to have happened on July 1, 2020, even though the date of the paperwork being submitted to Companies House was four weeks later.
It is believed that Prince Harry has remained as a director as the company needs at least one director as it heads into being dissolved.
A further document said that the registered office of the foundation was being changed from the address of Royal lawyers Harbottle & Lewis in Savoy Court, London, to the premises of accountants Smith & Williamson who are the administrators and are based in Moorgate in the City of London.
Harry and Meghan agreed to stop using their ‘Sussex Royal’ brand after officially stepping away from The Firm on April 1 last year.
Their departure – nicknamed Megxit – prompted talks with aides, which ended with the agreement that they would be unable to use the word ‘royal’ as part of any of new branding.
Paperwork published at the time about the winding-up of their ‘Sussex Royal The Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’ cause said it would change its identity.
Companies House documents state: ‘The charity’s name be changed to the MWX Foundation’.
The papers also show the Sussex Royal Foundation had £99,000 in the bank and how it will cost £16,000 to wind up the good cause.
They also show that the charity was owed £200,00 from an unknown source.
The Sussexes established another company MWX Trading Ltd last August, naming their lawyer, Gerrard Tyrrell, as its secretary.
Natalie Campbell, who worked for their charitable foundation Sussex Royal, is the director.
They registered it at Companies House and have already used the business to apply for trademarks, which included the name Travalyst.
Sussex Royal was also the title of their Instagram page and their website, which still bear the name.
The couple used their social media to put out visits, talks and speeches the couple were attending and delivering.
After announcing they were launching a new charity Archewell in the US back in April, 2020, the couple said they were ‘looking forward’ to getting started with the foundation, which will replace their Sussex Royal brand.
Harry and Meghan also revealed the Greek word in the project Arche – meaning source of action – was the inspiration behind the name of their son Archie Mountbatten-Windsor.
A spokesman for Meghan and Harry did not respond to a request to comment about MWX and its creditor when contacted by MailOnline.
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