Piers Morgan ‘delighted’ by Ofcom verdict as he tells Harry and Meghan to ‘put up or shut up’
Piers Morgan has challenged the Duke and Duchess of Sussex to “put up or shut up” as he celebrated Ofcom’s decision not to sanction Good Morning Britain over controversial comments he made on the show.
Speaking to reporters after the media regulator decided the programme had not been in breach of the broadcasting code, he also suggested Prince Harry and Meghan should give up their royal titles and stop “spray gunning” the Royal Family with “lurid allegations”.
Morgan lost his job on the ITV breakfast show after questioning some of the claims the couple made during their interview with Oprah Winfrey, broadcast in March.
Talking before leaving for an awards show, he said: “Today, Ofcom has emphatically endorsed my right to not believe what the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were saying.
“And I’m delighted that they’ve actually recognised what I said five months ago, which is actually, in a democracy, we have a thing called free speech and freedom of expression and you’re allowed to have an opinion even if Meghan and Harry in their California mansion don’t like it.”
Expanding on his theme, he suggested the ruling should cause Harry and Meghan to look back at what was said.
“The Duke and Duchess of Sussex should reflect on this, and they should work out whether it is fair of them to spray gun the British royal family with lurid allegations without producing a shred of evidence,” he said.
“Five months later there is no evidence for any of their allegations. I’m not saying they didn’t happen, I’m just saying ‘put up or shut up’.”
Although Ofcom said Morgan’s statements about suicide and mental health had the potential to be highly offensive, it concluded that the programme “contained sufficient challenge to provide adequate protection and context to viewers”.
When challenged about mental health, Morgan told reporters: “What thought have they (Harry and Meghan) given to the mental health of the Queen, a 95-year-old woman who lost her husband of seven decades this year, who went into hospital – Prince Philip – just before they went on television in America and trashed the Royal Family.”
He added: “Everywhere I’ve gone in the last five months I’ve had universal support from the British public, who are incensed by the damage that they’re doing to the Royal Family.”
Morgan said he’d had “some very interesting” job offers and will be making a decision “quite soon”, describing himself as a “valuable commodity”.
A spokesman for the regulator 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.”
It became one of Ofcom’s most complained about TV moments ever, with 54,000 people expressing their opposition to the broadcast.
Earlier, Morgan called the ruling a “victory”, tweeting: “I’m delighted Ofcom has endorsed my right to disbelieve the Duke & Duchess of Sussex’s incendiary claims to Oprah Winfrey, many of which have proven to be untrue.
“This is a resounding victory for free speech and a resounding defeat for Princess Pinocchios. Do I get my job back?”
Writing in a hastily published column on MailOnline, Morgan added: “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?”
After leaving Good Morning Britain, Morgan told Sky News he did not believe the Duchess Of Sussex’s “diatribe of bilge”.
He said: “I think the damage she’s done to the British monarchy and to the Queen at a time when Prince Philip is lying in hospital (the comments were made before his death) is enormous and frankly contemptible.
“If I have to fall on my sword for expressing an honestly-held opinion about Meghan Markle and that diatribe of bilge that she came out with in that interview, so be it.
“I think it’s fair to say, although the woke crowd will think that they’ve cancelled me, I think they will be rather disappointed when I re-emerge.”