‘Everyone is in favour of free speech,’ said Winston Churchill, ‘but some people’s idea of it is that they are free to say what they like, but if anyone else says anything back, that is an outrage.’
He could have been talking about Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle, two people who think they have both the right to drop endless incendiary unsubstantiated bombshells about their family AND the right to censor and silence anyone who dares to disbelieve or challenge them.
They claimed a member of the Royal Family had been racist about their son Archie, and that their little boy had been banned from being a Prince because of his skin colour.
Back in March, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex spent two hours spray-gunning the Royals to Oprah Winfrey in an explosive interview on prime-time US television, writes PIERS MORGAN
Hours later on GMB, Piers said he didn’t believe a word Meghan Markle said triggering furious protest from her fans of the couple. Today OFCOM announced that they had rejected all the complaints against Piers
Meghan also claimed that she told several senior Palace officials she was feeling suicidal, but they told her she couldn’t have any treatment because it would be bad for the royal brand.
Oh, and she stated as fact that she and Harry secretly got married three days before their official wedding, in a private ceremony conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury.
On ITV’s Good Morning Britain a few hours later, I said I didn’t believe a word Meghan Markle said.
This triggered a furious protest from fans of the couple who accused me of being a racist callous misogynist who was belittling Meghan’s ‘lived experience’ of mental health and racism.
But it was simpler than that: I just didn’t believe her.
Not least because it was immediately established that some of her more outlandish claims, like the secret wedding and Archie’s princely ban, were provable nonsense.
As the furore grew, a record number of 57,000 people, including Meghan Markle herself, complained about me to the UK TV government regulator OFCOM.
ITV’s Chief Executive, Dame Carolyn McCall, responded by saying that she believed Meghan’s mental health claims, and I was then told by my employers to either apologise for what I had said or leave the show with immediate effect.
I decided to leave.
As I explained in an article for the Mail on Sunday several weeks later: ‘I wasn’t going to apologise for disbelieving Meghan Markle, because the truth is that I don’t believe Meghan Markle. And in a free democratic society, I should be allowed not to believe someone, and to say that I don’t believe them. That, surely, is the very essence of freedom of speech? If I said I now believed Meghan, I would be lying to the audience, the very thing I’ve accused her of doing.’
Today, in a stunning verdict, OFCOM announced that they agreed with this argument, and rejected every single complaint against me.
Their report is lengthy and detailed, but in the end, it came down to an unequivocal and emphatic endorsement of my right to an opinion.
‘OFCOM is clear that, consistent with freedom of expression, Mr Morgan was entitled to say he disbelieved the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s allegations and to hold and express strong views that rigorously challenged their account,’ they declared, adding that their Broadcasting Code ‘allows for individuals to express strongly held and robustly argued views, including those that are potentially harmful or highly offensive, and for broadcasters to include these in their programming.’
It concluded: ‘The restriction of such views would, in our view, be an unwarranted and chilling restriction on freedom of expression both of the broadcaster and the audience.’
Ironically, I would imagine that word will prompt a very chilly reaction from the self-satisfied Sussexes as they slurp kale smoothies in their California mansion over breakfast this morning.
Make no mistake, this is a watershed moment in the battle for free speech.
If OFCOM had found against me, that would have signalled 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.
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?
Five months on from my sudden departure from GMB, at least 17 of Meghan and Harry’s claims in the Oprah interview have now been shown to be false or disingenuous.
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? writes Piers
The poor old Archbishop of Canterbury was even forced to publicly deny he’d conducted a secret marriage ceremony because that would have been a criminal offence and he might have been sent to prison for it.
More pertinently, none of the couple’s most sensational and damaging statements about racism and mental health have yet been supported by a shred of evidence amid furious denials from the Royal Family.
So, my observation that I didn’t believe Meghan Markle is looking stronger by the day. And for the record, I still don’t believe her.
But that’s not really the point.
This is not about me, or Meghan Markle.
It’s about free speech and the right to have an opinion.
We now live in a woke-ravaged era where it’s become a punishable offence to say what you really think about almost anything for fear that someone, somewhere, will be offended.
This insidious ‘cancel culture’ as it’s been termed represents the most serious threat to democracy in my lifetime.
People all over the world are being shamed, vilified, and even fired from their jobs for expressing an opinion that the woke brigade don’t like.
Every day, social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook explode with self-righteous judgements handed down by the court of woke public opinion, and the consequence is that debate is being destroyed at the altar of political correctness in a way that would have Churchill turning in his grave.
This was a man who fought off the freedom-muzzling Nazis, for God’s sake!
Yet now people calling themselves ‘liberal’ are behaving like the worst kind of fascists.
That’s why this OFCOM ruling matters so much.
It was preposterous that I had to leave a job I loved because I didn’t believe a demonstrable liar.
But it happened because the corporate world has been cowed into surrendering to the woke mob whenever it bays for blood.
I was reliably informed recently that Meghan Markle wrote directly to my ITV boss Dame Carolyn McCall the night before I was forced out, demanding my head on a plate.
Apparently, she stressed that she was writing to Dame Carolyn personally because they were both women and mothers – a nauseating playing of the gender and maternity card if ever there was one.
What has the world come to when a whiny fork-tongued actress can dictate who presents a morning television news programme?
So yes, I’m obviously delighted that OFCOM has supported my right to disbelieve the Sussexes’ lurid claims against the Royal Family, many of which have failed to stand up to even a scintilla of basic scrutiny of the kind that a woefully enabling Oprah should have conducted.
This is a resounding victory for free speech and a resounding defeat for Princess Pinocchios.
As OFCOM determined, to have restricted my right to disbelieve her and Harry would have been ‘chilling.’
And when Meghan and Harry, whose unofficially authorised biography is titled ‘Finding Freedom’, lick their failed censorship wounds today, I suggest they heed the words of George Orwell: ‘If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.’
Just one question remains: does this mean I get my job back?