Piers Morgan was cleared Wednesday by the UK media watchdog, which ruled that the “Good Morning Britain” host did not breach broadcasting code when he criticized Meghan Markle’s Oprah Winfrey interview — rejecting a record number of viewer complaints.
Morgan, 65, had dismissed Markle’s mental health struggles and accused her of lying about her claim that the royal family refused to get her help.
The morning show star said he did not “believe a word” Markle said or that he wouldn’t believe her if “she read me a weather report,” BBC reported.
The tirade prompted a record 57,793 complaints to the Office of Communication — the highest in its 18-year history.
The Duchess of Sussex herself also lodged a formal complaint.
The backlash also prompted Morgan to quit his job on “Good Morning Britain” in March — just hours after his co-star, Alex Beresford, took him to task for continuing to “trash” the Duchess of Sussex following the bombshell interview with husband Prince Harry.
But the Office of Communication, better known as Ofcom, cleared Morgan, saying he did not breach broadcasting code, The Telegraph reported.
“Mr. Morgan’s comments were potentially harmful and offensive to viewers, and we recognize the strong public reaction to them,” Ofcom said in a statement.
“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 to viewers.”
Ofcom said it also “reminded” broadcaster ITV to take “greater care” surrounding topics like mental health and suicide.
“ITV might consider the use of timely warning or signposting of support services to ensure viewers are properly protected,” the watchdog agency said.
Morgan, for his part, said he felt vindicated by the “resounding” victory.
“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 been proven to be untrue,” Morgan tweeted Wednesday. “This is a resounding victory for free speech and a resounding defeat for Princess Pinocchios. Do I get my job back?”
Morgan also penned a column in the Daily Mail detailing how he was called a “racist callous misogynist” following his comments. He said he believes Wednesday’s ruling marked a “watershed moment in the battle” for free speech.
“If OFCOM had found against me, that would have signaled 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,” Morgan wrote.
“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?”