ENTERTAINMENT
01/09/2021 10:32 BST | Updated 01/09/2021 10:52 BST

Ofcom Makes Official Ruling Over Piers Morgan's Comments About Meghan Markle On Good Morning Britain

Piers' outburst about the Duchess of Sussex was the most complained-about issue in Ofcom history.

Ofcom has ruled that Good Morning Britain was not in breach of their broadcasting code over comments made by Piers Morgan about Meghan Markle earlier this year.

The presenter faced a huge backlash when he cast doubt on claims made by the Duchess of Sussex during her TV interview with Oprah Winfrey

During the live broadcast in March, Piers and co-host Susanna Reid were shown a clip of Meghan telling Oprah she’d experienced “suicidal thoughts” after joining the Royal Family.

Meghan said in the footage: “I went to the institution. And I said that I needed to go somewhere to get help. I said that I’d never felt this way before, and I need to go somewhere. And I was told that I couldn’t, because it wouldn’t be good for the institution.” 

Reacting to the clip live on air, Piers said he “[doesn’t] believe a word [Meghan] says”, adding: “I wouldn’t believe her if she read me a weather report, and the fact that she’s fired up this onslaught against our Royal Family, I think, is contemptible.” 

It was later revealed that this had become the most complained-about incident in Ofcom history, with the watchdog receiving over 57,000 complaints.

However, six months later, the media regulator has said that while Piers’ comments were “potentially harmful and offensive”, they did not violate their code.

“This was a finely-balanced decision,” an Ofcom rep said on Wednesday morning. “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.”

Shutterstock/ITV
Piers Morgan on what would prove to be his penultimate episode of Good Morning Britain in March

They added: “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.”

A summary of the Ofcom ruling said: “This programme focused on the interview between Oprah Winfrey and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

“It contained statements about suicide and mental health which had the potential to be harmful and highly offensive.

“However, our decision is that overall the programme contained sufficient challenge to provide adequate protection and context to its viewers. 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.”

DAN HIMBRECHTS via Getty Images
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

Piers tweeted shortly after the news that ITV had been cleared: “This is a resounding victory for free speech and a resounding defeat for Princess Pinocchios. Do I get my job back?”

The morning after his outburst about Meghan, Piers was confronted about his remarks by GMB presenter Alex Beresford, prompting Piers to walk off the set completely.

That night, it was confirmed that he would not be returning to GMB.

In the six months since his departure, his former co-host Susanna Reid has been joined by an array of guest presenters including Richard Madeley, Bill Turnbull and Alastair Campbell.