Piers Morgan Cleared by TV Regulator Over Meghan Markle Suicide Comments

Piers Morgan did not breach media rules when he said he doubted Meghan Markle's account of feeling suicidal, U.K. regulator Ofcom has ruled.

The controversial former host of Good Morning Britain quit under pressure to apologize for the remarks, made on air in the hours after the Oprah Winfrey interview.

Meghan personally complained to network ITV over his on air comments and there were record numbers of complaints to U.K. TV regulator Ofcom.

However, the watchdog today ruled that while his remarks had the potential to be offensive they were within the rules.

Ofcom's ruling states: "It [the broadcast] contained statements about suicide and mental health which had the potential to be harmful and highly offensive.

"However, our decision is that overall the programme contained sufficient challenge to provide adequate protection and context to its viewers.

"We also considered that the comments about race in the programme could have been potentially highly offensive, but that the comments were sufficiently contextualised.

"Therefore, our decision is that the programme did not breach the Ofcom Broadcasting Code."

The duchess told Oprah: "I was really ashamed to say it at the time and ashamed to have to admit it to Harry, especially, because I know how much loss he's suffered. But I knew that if I didn't say it, that I would do it. And I just didn't want to be alive anymore. And that was a very clear and real and frightening constant thought."

Morgan told viewers of Good Morning Britain he did not believe her account, in which she also said she asked to go to a mental hospital but was told it would make the institution look bad.

He said: "Who did you go to? What did she say to you? I'm sorry but I don't believe a word she says, Meghan Markle.

"I wouldn't believe her if she read me a weather report. The fact that she's fired this onslaught our Royal Family is contemptible."

Morgan was challenged on air including by co-host Susanna Reid who said: "Well that's a pathetic reaction to someone who has expressed those thoughts."

U.K. TV regulator Ofcom received more than 50,000 complaints and launched an investigation into the broadcast.

Good morning to Dr. Shola Mos-Shogbamimu only, who woke up this morning and dragged Piers Morgan pic.twitter.com/IeVRwcgpG9

— philip lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) March 8, 2021

The ruling read: "The programme covered two very serious and sensitive issues, namely: mental health and suicide; and race.

"In Ofcom's view there is a high public interest in having an open and frank debate on both issues.

"At the same time, they are both issues which had potential to cause offence. We also took into account that this programme focused on a significant news story about the Royal Family which was clearly a legitimate subject for debate in the
public interest.

"Ofcom's decision in this case was finely balanced. In the particular circumstances, we considered the broadcaster provided adequate protection to viewers, from potentially harmful and highly offensive statements about mental health and suicide, as there was sufficient challenge to such statements which meant they were adequately contextualised."

ITV said in a statement: "We welcome the Ofcom ruling that Good Morning Britain did not breach the broadcast standards relating to harm and offense.

"The ruling sets out clearly that it was the balance and context the program makers provided which was key in mitigating against the potential for harm and offense which could have been caused by Piers Morgan's comments.

"It is because of the program's editorial decisions and the opposing views which were forcefully expressed by other presenters and guests, that the program did not breach Ofcom's rules."

If you have thoughts of suicide, confidential help is available for free at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Call 1-800-273-8255. The line is available 24 hours, every day.

Piers Morgan and Meghan Markle
Piers Morgan seen returning to his West London home after doing the school run on March 11, 2021 in London, England. Meghan Markle attends the annual Remembrance Sunday service at The Cenotaph on November 10, 2019 in London, England. Neil Mockford/GC Images and Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images