Decision to quit

Piers Morgan storms off set of Good Morning Britain in Meghan row

ITV co-presenter calls host’s behaviour towards Duchess of Sussex ‘pathetic’ and ‘diabolical’

Piers Morgan has a close relationship to Donald Trump

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MEDIA PRESS GROUP

Piers Morgan has decided to leave Good Morning Britain after a row over remarks he made about the Duchess of Sussex’s mental health. ITV said it had accepted the presenter’s decision to leave the breakfast show, saying in a statement: “Following discussions with ITV, Piers Morgan has decided now is the time to leave Good Morning Britain. ITV has accepted this decision and has nothing further to add.” Ofcom has launched an investigation into Morgan’s comments, after receiving more than 41,000 complaints.

Morgan had made dismissive remarks on Monday’s show about Meghan’s claims during a tell-all interview with Oprah Winfrey that aired in the US on Sunday night to have had issues with her mental health.

Ofcom said it had received 41,015 complaints about Morgan’s comments as of early Tuesday afternoon and had launched an investigation into whether or not he had broken the UK broadcasting code.

In Winfrey’s interview with Meghan and her husband, Prince Harry, the duchess detailed how her mental health had deteriorated while she was pregnant amid a barrage of negative press and lack of support from “the firm” – the apparatus surrounding the royal household – which had repeatedly turned down her appeals for help and discouraged her from leaving the house for months.

“It was all happening just because I was breathing,” Meghan said, breaking down in tears during the interview, which was broadcast on ITV on Monday night. “I just didn’t want to be alive any more. That was a clear, real, frightening and constant thought.”

Morgan, who has been a constant critic of Meghan, questioned on Monday whether she was telling the truth. “Who did you go to?” he said on Monday morning’s GMB show. “What did they say to you? I’m sorry, I don’t believe a word she said, Meghan Markle. I wouldn’t believe it if she read me a weather report.”

During Tuesday’s program, Morgan addressed his comments, saying: “When we talked about this yesterday, I said as an all-encompassing thing I don’t believe what Meghan Markle is saying generally in this interview, and I still have serious concerns about the veracity of a lot of what she said.

“But let me just state on the record my position about mental illness and on suicide. These are clearly extremely serious things that should be taken extremely seriously, and if someone is feeling that way they should get the treatment and help they need every time.”

On the same show, however, Morgan stormed off set after the discussion about Meghan with his colleague Alex Beresford.

The weather presenter defended the couple, telling Morgan: “I understand you’ve got a personal relationship with Meghan Markle, or had one, and she cut you off. She’s entitled to cut you off if she wants to. Has she said anything about you since she cut you off? I don’t think she has but yet you continue to trash her.”

ITV’s chief executive, Dame Carolyn McCall, subsequently said on Tuesday the row was not “manufactured”.

McCall added that ITV’s managing director of media and entertainment, Kevin Lygo, had been in discussion with Morgan in recent days regarding his coverage of the Harry and Meghan interview. She said Good Morning Britain was a balanced show, adding: “ITV has many voices and we try and represent many voices every day. It’s not about one opinion.”

A statement issued by Buckingham Palace on behalf of the Queen on Tuesday said the royal family was saddened by the revelations made in the Oprah interview and the issues raised around race were “concerning”.

Piers Morgan stormed off the set of Good Morning Britain on Tuesday after his co-presenter, Alex Beresford, criticised the way he “continues to trash” the Duchess of Sussex. His co-host, Susanna Reid, was forced to send the ITV show to an early break after the row boiled over and Morgan walked off live on air. Beresford called his behaviour “pathetic” and “diabolical”.

The GMB weather presenter Beresford later tweeted of the incident: “I wish I had the privilege to sit on the fence. In order for me to do that I would have to strip myself of my identity and that’s not something I can do. It’s not any of our places to pick apart claims of racism in order to make us to feel more comfortable.”

The pair had been discussing the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s tell-all interview with Oprah Winfrey, which aired in the UK on Monday night, that threatens to have devastating repercussions for the reputation of the UK monarchy.

Among the most damning disclosures in the interview was the claim that a member of the royal household had asked Prince Harry about how dark the skin tone of their baby son, Archie, would be.

Buckingham Palace is under mounting pressure to respond to the racism allegations in the interview, which Harry has made clear are not related to his grandparents, the Queen and Prince Philip.

In the exchange on Tuesday morning, Beresford noted the “overwhelming” amount of negative press Harry and Meghan have been subject to since they got engaged and the impact it has had on the couple’s mental health.

Speaking to Oprah, Meghan detailed how her mental health had deteriorated while she was pregnant amid the barrage of negative press and lack of support from “the firm”, which had repeatedly turned down her appeals for help and discouraged her from leaving the house for months.

She disclosed that she had suicidal thoughts during that time and was afraid to be left alone. “It was all happening just because I was breathing,” Meghan said. “I just didn’t want to be alive any more. And that was a very clear and real and frightening constant thought.”

In reference to Morgan’s previous claim that he used to speak to Meghan and she “dropped him” once she started dating Harry, Beresford told him: “She’s entitled to cut you off if she wants to … yet you continue to trash her.”

Beresford said: “I understand that you don’t like Meghan Markle, you’ve made it so clear a number of times on this program, and I understand you’ve got a personal relationship with Meghan Markle and she cut you off. She’s entitled to cut you off if she wants to. Has she said anything about you since she cut you off? I don’t think she has but yet you continue to trash her …”

Morgan, 55, then stormed out of the studio, saying: “OK, I’m done with this, sorry, no, can’t do this.” Beresford called his behavior “pathetic” and “diabolical”.

He added: “I’m sorry but Piers spouts off on a regular basis and we all have to sit there and listen, 6.30 to seven o’clock yesterday was incredibly hard to watch, incredibly hard to watch. This is, you know, he has the ability to come in here and talk from a position where he doesn’t fully understand.”

Morgan later returned to the set and the discussion of the Sussexes’ interview resumed.

The ITV chief executive, Carolyn McCall, said a senior executive at the broadcaster had talked to Morgan about his criticism of Meghan.

Morgan, a former CNN presenter, has previously criticized the couple and said they sought publicity on their own terms without the scrutiny that came with the job.

His comments that he did not believe Meghan’s disclosure that she had suicidal thoughts have drawn criticism from the mental health charity Mind, which said it was “concerned and disappointed” by them.

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.”

McCall told reporters that Kevin Lygo, ITV’s director of television, had spoken to Morgan in recent days about his comments. She added that she had not spoken to Morgan or seen Tuesday morning’s program yet as she had been presenting ITV’s annual figures.

She said ITV had many voices, was committed to supporting mental health and that the company could not control what Morgan said on Twitter. “ITV has many voices and we try and represent many voices on ITV every day,” she said, insisting GMB was “a balanced show”. “It’s not about one opinion.”

McCall added: “I completely believe what she [Meghan] said. It’s important everyone does.”

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