UK media watchdog Ofcom has ruled in favour of Piers Morgan in his row with Meghan Markle, which saw him quit ITV's Good Morning Britain after storming off the set of the hit show.
Morgan walked off the set of the popular breakfast time show back in March following a heated dispute with fellow presenter Alex Beresford. After a 20 minute absence, Morgan returned and criticised Beresford for "launching a personal derogatory attack" against him. The following day he announced that he wouldn't be returning to Good Morning Britain.
The controversial presenter dismissed Markle's claims of having suicidal feelings and other remarks she made in an interview with Oprah Winfrey. In the interview Markle claimed that the stress of life as a Royal made her feel like she "didn't want to be alive anymore." Morgan said he didn't believe her claims.
"I don't believe a word she says, Meghan Markle. I wouldn't believe a weather report if she read it," he ranted at the time. "The fact she has expressed an onslaught against our Royal Family is contemptible."
This led Markle to lodge a complaint with Ofcom against Morgan.
"We can confirm receipt of a standards complaint made on behalf of the Duchess of Sussex," Ofcom confirmed at the time.
Along with Markle, 57,000 members of the public complained to Ofcom regarding Morgan's words on the Duchess of Sussex.
Ofcom launched an investigation into the episode of Good Morning Britain under "harm and offence rules."
Now Ofcom have ruled that Morgan was "entitled" to air his opinions and that barring him from doing so would be an "unwarranted and chilling restriction on freedom of expression."
"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," Morgan wrote on Twitter upon receiving the verdict. "This is a resounding victory for free speech and a resounding defeat for Princess Pinocchios. Do I get my job back?"
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.— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) September 1, 2021
Do I get my job back? pic.twitter.com/czhzeejYpa
Ofcom's ruling has been called "a victory for common sense and free speech" by Royal commentator Robert Jobson.
The regulator said that Morgan's comments were "consistent with the right to freedom of expression" and while they were "potentially harmful and offensive" they did not breach broadcasting standards.
"This interview became a major international news story and we acknowledged it was both legitimate and in the public interest for ITV to broadcast debates featuring presenters such as Mr Morgan scrutinising those allegations including the veracity, timing and possible motivations of the claims," Ofcom said in a statement released on Wednesday. "Consistent with the right to freedom of expression, broadcasters can portray strong views on the matter, including views casting doubt on the claims made.
"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.
"The 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.
"The restriction of such views would, in our view, be an unwarranted and chilling restriction on freedom of expression both of the broadcaster and audience."
Morgan labelled his win a "watershed moment in the battle for free speech."
"None of the couple's most sensational and damaging statements about racism and mental health have yet been supported by a shred of evidence amid furious denials from the Royal Family," Morgan wrote in his Daily Mail column. "So, my observation that I didn't believe Meghan Markle is looking stronger by the day. And for the record, I still don't believe her."