The Good Morning Britain presenter said on air that he did not "believe a word" of Meghan's account in her Oprah Winfrey interview.
Television broadcast regulator Ofcom has cleared presenter Piers Morgan of any wrongdoing, after he was vocal in his disbelief of Meghan Markle’s comments in the interview she carried out with Oprah Winfrey earlier this year.
In conversation with Oprah, Meghan Markle bravely shared that she reached such a low point during her time as a working member of the royal family, she suffered suicidal thoughts. “It was very clear and very scary,” said Meghan. “I just didn’t see a solution”.
The Duchess of Sussex also revealed that an unnamed member of the royal family had “several conversations” with Prince Harry about “how dark [Archie’s] skin might be when he’s born” and “what that would mean or look like”.
In the wake of the controversial interview, as it was being dissected on Good Morning Britain, Piers Morgan said he did not “believe a word she said” in the CBS primetime special, and that he “wouldn’t believe it if she read me a weather report.” He went on to add his view that the “onslaught” Meghan had fired against the royal family was “contemptible”.
Morgan’s cruel dismissal of Meghan Markle’s highly personal account went on to attract almost 58,000 complaints to the broadcast regulator – including one from the Duchess herself. Days later, the presenter quit his job as co-anchor of the breakfast television programme after TV bosses gave him an “ultimatum” – he could either apologise for the remarks he made on air about Meghan, or he would have to leave the show.
Now, almost six months after the fact, Ofcom has delivered its verdict on whether Piers Morgan violated any broadcasting rules in his blatant disregard for Megan Markle’s version of events. The body ruled that, while his actions were undoubtedly “highly offensive” to some viewers, ultimately the conversation was legitimate because it was part of “open debate” and “freedom of expression”.
Ofcom’s ruling said: “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.
It added: “The restriction of such views would, in our view, we an unwarranted and chilling restriction on freedom of expression both of the broadcaster and the audience.”
The statement continued: “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 programme provided open debate on the issues raised by the interview. We also considered that the programme 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 programme, in Ofcom’s view any potential offence was justified by the context and the comments and discussions about race and racism were not in breach of rule 2.3 of the code.”
Following the announcement, Piers Morgan went on to say on Twitter that he is “delighted” with the ruling, labelling it “a resounding victory for free speech.” Meghan Markle is yet to comment.