KEY POINTS

  • Piers Morgan was cleared by the U.K. media watchdog over his criticisms of Meghan Markle's interview with Oprah Winfrey
  • Ofcom said his comments were "potentially harmful and offensive," but it "took full account of freedom of expression"
  • Morgan said he felt vindicated by the "resounding" victory

Piers Morgan has been cleared by the British media regulator Ofcom, which ruled that he did not breach broadcasting code when he criticized Meghan Markle’s Oprah Winfrey interview.

report published Wednesday by the U.K. media watchdog said that Morgan was "not in breach of its broadcasting rules" when he questioned Markle's claims of suicidal thoughts, live on "Good Morning Britain" earlier this year. He left his role on the U.K. talk show shortly after making the comments.

In March, Markle and Prince Harry sat down with Winfrey for a bombshell interview, in which the duchess admitted to having suicidal thoughts when she was still living in the U.K. and allegedly did not get the support that she needed from the royal family.

Following the interview, Morgan dismissed Markle's mental health struggles and accused her of lying about her claim that the royal family refused to get her help. He also insisted that he did not "believe a word" the duchess said and that he wouldn't believe her if "she read me a weather report," BBC reported.

According to Ofcom, a record 57,793 complaints — the highest in its 18-year history — were brought against Morgan over his tirade. Markle herself reportedly lodged a complaint against the broadcast journalist. 

Despite this, the regulator cleared Morgan and "Good Morning Britain's" network ITV of any wrongdoing, asserting in its report that while the journalist's comments were "potentially harmful and offensive," it "took full account of freedom of expression."

"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. The [Ofcom 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," the report stated, adding, "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."

The regulator continued, "Under our rules, broadcasters can include controversial opinions as part of legitimate debate in the public interest, and the strong challenge to Mr. Morgan from other contributors provided important context for viewers."

In response to the report, Morgan took to Twitter to say he felt vindicated by the "resounding" victory.

"I’m delighted OFCOM has endorsed my right to disbelieve the Duke & Duchess of Sussex’s incendiary claims to Oprah Winfrey, many of which have proven to be untrue," he tweeted. "This is a resounding victory for free speech and a resounding defeat for Princess Pinocchios. Do I get my job back?"

In an exclusive interview with The Sun, Morgan said he was furious at being called racist for disbelieving claims made by Markle. He claimed that "absolutely nothing I've ever said about Meghan Markle has anything to do with the color of her skin. That slur made me very angry."

Morgan further insisted that he is free to share his opinions about Markle and that he is free not to believe her as others are free not to believe him.

piers morgan and meghan markle TV host Piers Morgan, pictured at BritWeek's "Evening with Piers Morgan" on May 4, 2012 in Beverly Hills, California, has accused Duchess Meghan Markle, seen here at Al Manaar, North Kensington on Nov. 21, 2018 in London, of being a social climber. Photo: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Chris Jackson/Getty Images