Piers Morgan has demanded his job back on Britain’s biggest morning show after British regulators concluded that he was entitled to accuse Meghan Markle of lying in her interview with Oprah Winfrey, and that to prevent him from doing so would have a “chilling” effect on media freedom.
Morgan was asked to leave the show after he refused to apologize for saying he didn’t believe “a word” of the controversial claims made by Meghan in her interview with Oprah. The duchess said she felt suicidal and that her unborn child was the subject of racial prejudice by royal family members.
After the interview with Meghan and Prince Harry aired, Morgan said at one stage: “I’m sorry, I don’t believe a word she says—Meghan Markle. I wouldn’t believe it if she read me a weather report.”
Following a highly charged on-camera conversation with one of the show’s Black presenters, Alex Beresford, Morgan stormed off the set and subsequently quit Good Morning Britain after refusing to apologize for his comments.
Britain’s media watchdog, Ofcom, received a record 57,793 complaints against Morgan, one of which was filed by the duchess herself.
However in a stunning vindication for Morgan, the regulator said Wednesday that while its judgment was “finely balanced,” Morgan’s views didn’t break its broadcasting code and that Morgan was entitled to express his opinion during the shows on March 8 and 9, which were dominated by his reaction to the Oprah interview.
Ofcom’s ruling 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 program provided open debate on the issues raised by the interview.
“We also considered that the program 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.
“Despite strong opinions expressed during the program, in Ofcom’s view any potential offense was justified by the context.”
The report added: “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.”
Writing in the Daily Mail Wednesday, in a triumphant piece published immediately after the judgment was published, Morgan described the victory as: “A watershed moment in the battle for free speech,” saying that if the regulator had found against him “that would have signaled the end of every U.K. TV journalist’s right to express any honestly held opinion on air lest it upset the likes of Meghan Markle.”
In the piece, Morgan also made a new and incendiary claim that Markle “wrote directly to my ITV boss Dame Carolyn McCall the night before I was forced out, demanding my head on a plate.”
Morgan said: “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.”
A spokesperson for Meghan Markle did not respond to a request for comment.