Freedom of Speech
0 5 mins 3 yrs

Recap of the latest wave of ‘cancellations’ on all fronts – from TV to music to Society of Editors to NHS Wales.

Ofcom tweeted that by Tuesday afternoon it had received 41,015 complaints about Piers Morgan’s comments on Monday’s episode of Good Morning Britain and had launched an investigation under its ‘harm and offence’ rules. Morgan faced criticism for his remarks about the Duchess of Sussex’s mental health revelations during her and Harry’s interview with Oprah Winfrey, and dramatically walked off the set of GMB on Tuesday, mid-broadcast, for the last time, after the programme’s weatherman, Alex Beresford, criticised him and defended the Duchess.

CNN reported that Meghan Markle herself complained to ITV about Morgan’s remarks, leading ITV to demand an apology, which Morgan refused, opting to quit instead. Morgan told journalists on Wednesday that he believes in freedom of speech, and tweeted: “On Monday, I said I didn’t believe Meghan Markle in her Oprah interview. I’ve had time to reflect on this opinion, and I still don’t. If you did, OK. Freedom of speech is a hill I’m happy to die on. Thanks for all the love, and hate. I’m off to spend more time with my opinions.”

Toby has written to the CEO of ITV, Dame Carolyn McCall, to request clarification on the reported facts, and how, if the reports are true, the broadcaster’s behaviour is “consistent with ITV’s duties under section 5 of the Ofcom Broadcasting Code”.

Morgan’s wasn’t the only scalp claimed by the Duchess. Ian Murray was forced to resign as executive director of the Society of Editors after issuing a statement on Monday on behalf of the Society headlined: “UK media not bigoted.” He claimed Meghan’s branding of the British press as “racist” was “not acceptable” and lacked “supporting evidence”. More than 160 “journalists of colour” signed an open letter to the Society written by Guardian journalist Haroon Siddique criticising the statement. Following the letter, nominees in the forthcoming National Press Awards, an event organised by the Society of Editors, began to drop out and Murray lost the support of his Board.

Winston Marshall is reportedly taking a break from the band Mumford & Sons, for which he played the banjo, after praising Unmasked: Inside Antifa’s Radical Plan to Destroy Democracy, a book by the journalist Andy Ngo. In a tweet, which was quickly removed, he wrote: “Finally had the time to read your important book. You’re a brave man.” Following a tsunami of criticism on Twitter, Marshall apologised and said he’d use his time away from the band “to examine my blind spots”.

Gordon Beattie, founder of PR company Beattie Communications, has resigned as Chairman for a post on LinkedIn that read: “At Beattie Communications, we don’t hire blacks, gays or Catholics. We sign talented people and we don’t care about the colour of their skin, sexual orientation or religion. That’s the way it should be with every company – only hire people for their talent, experience, knowledge and wisdom.” After the first line of the post was taken out of context by people claiming to be offended by it, Beattie apologised, saying he was being “deliberately controversial” to draw attention to his company’s meritocratic hiring policy. But the criticism continued, forcing him to resign. “It’s a wrench to step down as chair but I feel I have no alternative,” he said. “The time is right to go.”

James Moore lost his position working for NHS Wales for a social media post comparing the attitude of Welsh nationalists towards people in Wales who don’t speak Welsh to the treatment of black people in apartheid South Africa. Writing in UnHerd, Paul Embery said Moore’s defenestration was depressingly familiar: “Moore’s case follows a well-worn pattern. First, the miscreant must apologise profusely for his foul deed. Then his employer must fire him (or at least issue a strongly-worded statement distancing itself from his views and assuring the world that they do not reflect the organisation’s own values). And, finally, in cases where the target has any sort of public standing, Media companies must deny him a platform in the future. And all too often, all three – the offender, the employer and elements of the media – will duly oblige.”