Ofcom found the television personality was not in breach of its broadcasting rules when he questioned the duchess' claims of suicidal thoughts.
Advertisement

Piers Morgan and ITV have been cleared of breaching British broadcasting rules by UK media regulator Ofcom.

On Wednesday, the regulator published a 97-page report in which it found that the broadcast journalist and former host of the U.K. talk show Good Morning Britain was "not in breach of its broadcasting rules" when he questioned Meghan Markle's claims of suicidal thoughts, live on the show.

Back in March, the Duchess of Sussex and Prince Harry sat down with Oprah Winfrey for a tell-all interview in which Markle shared that she had felt suicidal while living in England and didn't receive the support she needed from the Royal family. The day after the interview aired in the U.K., Morgan spoke out against the duchess on Good Morning Britain, calling her conversation with Winfrey the "acting performance of her life" that was "designed to portray her as the ultimate victim" thereby casting doubt over Markle's struggles with mental health and thoughts of suicide, stating that he doesn't believe the Palace would have ignored her needs.

Piers Morgan, Meghan Markle
Piers Morgan; Meghan Markle
| Credit: Frazer Harrison/Getty; Samir Hussein/WireImage

Following Morgan's comments, — and his subsequent storming off and stepping down from the show — he was rebuked by mental health charity Mind and a record-breaking 57,793  complaints were brought against him to Ofcom, including one from Markle herself. Most of the complaints stated that Morgan's comments about mental health and suicide were "both harmful to the audience and highly offensive."

In its just-released report, however, Ofcom said, "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 [Ofcom 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." Adding, "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."

The regulator said that while they "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," they 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," said the regulator. "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."

Not one to accept the news quietly, Morgan has been very vocal on social media about Ofcom's decision. On Wednesday, he tweeted that the regulator's ruling is a "vindication of me" 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 has regularly used the nickname "Princess Pinocchio" in regard to Markle since the interview.

ITV didn't immediately respond to EW's request for comment.

If you or someone you know need mental health help, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor.

Related content:


Comments have been disabled on this post