Susanna Reid confessed she is in an uncomfortable position after her former Good Morning Britain co-host Piers Morgan beat an Ofcom complaint following his comments about Meghan Markle’s mental health during her interview with Oprah Winfrey.
The broadcaster said he ‘doesn’t believe’ her remarks that she felt suicidal while pregnant with her son Archie and that there were concerns about ‘how dark’ her son would be when he was born.
Ofcom received 41,000 complaints in 24 hours over Piers’ comments.
The backlash led to Piers quitting Good Morning Britain, after he stormed off set when Alex Beresford pulled him up on his conduct and said that Meghan was ‘entitled’ to cut him off.
The broadcasting regulator said that while Piers’ comments were ‘potentially harmful and offensive’, Good Morning Britain did not breach the broadcasting code and Piers was entitled to share his opinions.
In a 97-page-long ruling it also noted that he had been challenged at the time by Susanna and weather presenter Alex.
On Thursday’s Good Morning Britain Susanna and co-host Ben Shephard, along with panelists Kevin Maguire and Andrew Pierce, discussed the situation which led to Piers quitting the ITV show.
She said: ‘It’s a slightly awkward moment right now. It’s a very interesting decision.
‘Ofcom included this very significant freedom of speech declaration. It’s all over the papers today as a landmark judgment.’
Kevin added: ‘I think the tone was wrong, but anybody has to be free to discuss a very powerful public figure. It was the debate.
‘If he hadn’t been challenged the ruling could have been very different. Hats off to Good Morning Britain because no organisation finds it easy to discuss itself in public.’
Ben agreed saying: ‘If we’re in the news we have to hold our hands up and discuss it.’
Referring to the episodes immediately after Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s interview with Oprah, Susanna shared: ‘Those two programmes were very challenging but challenge is part of the programme, all that debate and disgareement and trying to tease those arguments out.’
Her co-host noted that it was ‘tough for everybody, including Piers and his family’ while Kevin said that it hadn’t been easy for Alex at the time either.
The Life Stories presenter asked for his Good Morning Britain job back shortly after Ofcom’s ruling was announced.
He tweeted: ‘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.
‘This is a resounding victory for free speech and a resounding defeat for Princess Pinocchios.
‘Do I get my job back?’
However he may not need it as the TV star claimed job offers have ‘accelerated’ since the decision on Wednesday.
Good Morning Britain airs weekdays from 6am on ITV.
What is Ofcom and what does it cover?
Ofcom is the regulator for the communications services that we use and rely on each day.
The watchdog makes sure people get the best from their broadband, home phone and mobile services, as well as keeping an eye on TV and radio.
Ofcom deals with most content on television, radio and video-on-demand services, including the BBC. However, if your complaint is about something you saw or heard in a BBC programme, you may need to complain to the BBC first.
Its rules for television and radio programmes are set out in the Broadcasting Code.
The rules in the Broadcasting Code also apply to the BBC iPlayer.
This Broadcasting Code is the rule book that broadcasters have to follow and it covers a number of areas, including; protecting the under-18s, protecting audiences from harmful and/or offensive material and ensuring that news, in whatever form, is reported with due accuracy and presented with due impartiality.
Audiences can complain to Ofcom if they believe a breach of the Broadcasting Code has been made.
Every time Ofcom receives a complaint from a viewer or listener, they assess it to see if it needs further investigation.
If Ofcom decide to investigate, they will include the case in a list of new investigations, published in the Broadcast and On Demand Bulletin.
An investigation is a formal process which can take some time depending on the complexity of the issues involved.
Ofcom can also launch investigations in the absence of a complaint from a viewer or listener.