Piers Morgan has received the highest number of complaints in Ofcom history over comments made about the Duchess of Sussex.
The episodes of ITV’s Good Morning Britain which aired on 8 and 9 March sparked 57,121 complaints to the TV regulator, the most it has ever received.
What did Morgan say?
The former Good Morning Britain presenter hit out against Meghan Markle following her interview with Oprah Winfrey, in which she spoke about her issues with mental health and suicidal thoughts.
Morgan said on-air that he “didn’t believe a word” of the Duchess’ interview, when she explained her struggles, including royal officials’ knowledge of them.
After the clip of Markle aired, the TV presenter responded: “I’m sorry, I don’t believe a word she says.
“I wouldn’t believe her if she read me a weather report.”
Morgan added that the interview with chat show host Winfrey had sparked an “onslaught” against the royal family.
The comments made by Morgan attracted thousands of complaints, with Ofcom stating: “We can confirm that this issue has attracted the highest number of complaints since our reporting began.”
Responding on Twitter, Morgan said: “Only 57,000? I’ve had more people than that come up & congratulate me in the street for what I said. The vast majority of Britons are right behind me.”
Morgan’s final episode of the show saw him storm off the set after a heated exchange with co-star Alex Beresford, in which Beresford accused Morgan of “trashing” Meghan.
Morgan has stood by his controversial comments and said his departure from Good Morning Britain was caused by the “cancel culture that is permeating our country”.
The complaints about Morgan’s comments far exceed those made about Celebrity Big Brother in 2018 when ex-Emmerdale actress Roxanne Pallett alleged she had been assaulted by fellow housemate Ryan Thomas, which prompted 25,327 complaints.
Ofcom received around 24,500 complaints about Diversity’s performance on Britain’s Got Talent last year, which was inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement.
The controversy with Shilpa Shetty on Celebrity Big Brother in 2007 was previously the most complained about issue, attracting 44,500 complaints.
ITV announced that Morgan had left the show on the evening of 9 March, shortly after Ofcom said it had launched an investigation under its harm and offence rules after receiving more than 41,000 complaints in two days.
It later emerged that Markle had also made a formal complaint to Ofcom about the TV host after he dismissed her account of suffering suicidal thoughts and experiencing racism at the hands of the royal family.
She raised concerns with the broadcaster about the effect his comments may have on the issue of mental health generally and those attempting to deal with their own problems, but not about the former newspaper editor’s personal attack on herself.
Morgan’s comments have also been criticised by mental health charity Mind, who said in a tweet that it was “disappointed and concerned” that the Duchess’s comments were not taken seriously.
The charity said: “It’s vital that when people reach out for support or share their experiences of ill mental health, they are treated with dignity, respect and empathy.”