Ipso rules Jeremy Clarkson's Meghan Markle column was sexist and broke guidelines

The column in The Sun quickly became Ipso’s most complained-about article, receiving more than 25,100 complaints, ITV News' Mark McQuillan reports

Jeremy Clarkson's opinion column in The Sun broke press standards with sexist, "pejorative and prejudicial" comments about the Duchess of Sussex, the industry's watchdog has ruled.

The Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso) also rejected complaints that the piece was inaccurate, harassed the duchess and included discriminatory references to her on the grounds of race.

The newspaper will have to publish a summary of the findings against it on the same page as the column usually appears, along with a notice flagging the statement on the front page of Saturday’s edition and on its website.

In a statement, the newspaper said it accepts “that with free expression comes responsibility”, adding it has a "proud history of campaigning for women".

The Sun will be required to acknowledge its guideline breach in Saturday's paper. Credit: PA

Ipso chairman Lord Faulks said the article was a "serious breach" of the Editors’ Code of Practice, notably clause 12 in relation to discrimination, and they found the imagery used to be "humiliating and degrading" towards Meghan.

The article, in which Clarkson wrote he had dreamed of the Duchess being put in a humiliating position comparable to an infamous Game of Thrones scene, created a flurry of complaints almost immediately after it was published on 16 December last year.

Clarkson's daughter was one of the people who criticised the article.

It quickly became Ipso’s most complained-about article, receiving more than 25,100 complaints.

The former Top Gear presenter apologised soon after the piece's publication, saying he was "horrified to have caused so much hurt" following the backlash and that he would "be more careful in future."The Sun later said it "regretted" publishing the article.

The Duke of Sussex branded the article about his wife "horrific, hurtful and cruel", adding what Mr Clarkson had written would encourage people around the world to believe it is an acceptable way to treat women.

The Duke of Sussex branded the article about his wife "horrific, hurtful and cruel." Credit: PA

The Fawcett Society gender equality charity, which complained to Ipso, said the ruling is a "landmark decision" about a "vile and offensive" column.

The ruling is the first time a complaint to Ipso about discrimination relating to someone’s sex has been upheld, the regulator said.

Ipso found the article made references to the duchess’s sex, including a claim that she exercised power over the Duke of Sussex because of her sexuality.

It said this was "a reference to stereotypes about women using their sexuality to exert influence" and "implied that it was the duchess’s sexuality – rather than any other attribute or accomplishment – which was the source of her power."

The regulator also found the article’s use of comparison to Scotland’s former first minister Nicola Sturgeon and serial killer Rose West was because the three are female.

In the article, Clarkson wrote: "I hate her (Meghan). Not like I hate Nicola Sturgeon or Rose West. I hate her on a cellular level."

It said: "Ipso considered that any of these references, individually, might not represent a breach of the code.

Ipso said it also "considered in detail" the complaints relating to the duchess’s race but concluded the elements cited "did not provide a basis to establish that there was a pejorative reference to race."

It also said publication of one article was "not sufficient" to support a breach of harassment and it did not breach the accuracy clause.

The duchess did not complain to Ipso or make any representations. The regulator said the duchess was given the chance to comment, but "she indicated that she did not have any opposition to Ipso considering a complaint from the representative groups."

In a statement, The Sun said: "After Jeremy Clarkson’s column was published in December, both The Sun and Jeremy Clarkson apologised. We said we regretted publishing the article and removed it from our website.

"The Sun accepts that with free expression comes responsibility."

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