ITV News Correspondent Neil Connery reports on the implications and the reaction to Ofcom's ruling
ITV's Good Morning Britain was not in breach of the broadcasting code over Piers Morgan’s controversial comments about the Duchess of Sussex, which sparked more than 50,000 complaints, Ofcom has said.
In March, the regulator launched an investigation after it received complaints following a show in which the presenter made dismissive comments about Meghan’s claims to have had issues with her mental health.
The regulator said Morgan’s comments were "potentially harmful and offensive" but said it also "took full account of freedom of expression".
In a summary of their "finely balanced" decision, Ofcom said: "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."
The complaints related to editions of Good Morning Britain on March 8 and 9, the mornings before and after the Oprah interview with Meghan and Harry was broadcast in the UK.
Morgan left Good Morning Britain after saying he did not believe claims made by Meghan during her interview with Oprah Winfrey.
The episode on March 8 became the most complained about moment in the watchdog’s history and it emerged that Meghan had made a formal complaint to ITV about Morgan.
Meghan, 40, said she was ignored when raising concerns about her mental health and alleged that racist comments had been made before the birth of her son, Archie.
After a clip aired of Meghan discussing her issues with mental health and suicidal thoughts and royal official’s knowledge of them, Morgan said during the ITV programme: “I’m sorry, I don’t believe a word she says.
“I wouldn’t believe her if she read me a weather report.”
His comments were criticised by mental health charity Mind.Following the ruling, Morgan tweeted: “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?”
In a statement, ITV said: “We welcome the Ofcom ruling that Good Morning Britain did not breach the broadcast standards relating to harm and offence.
"The ruling sets out clearly that it was the balance and context the programme makers provided which was key in mitigating against the potential for harm and offence which could have been caused by Piers Morgan's comments.
"It is because of the programme's editorial decisions and the opposing views which were forcefully expressed by other presenters and guests, that the programme did not breach Ofcom's rules."