IT’S official: The boundaries of free speech in this country will not be decided by a duchess and a dame.
Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, demanded Piers Morgan’s insolent head on a recyclable, fully sustainable stick for daring to doubt the controversial claims she made to Oprah Winfrey about the Royal Family.
Dame Carolyn McCall, ITV’s chief executive, cravenly obeyed Meghan’s command.
Piers quit his job. Meghan silenced her leading critic. And Dame Carolyn got a quiet life . . . although ITV’s breakfast show haemorrhaged viewers after Piers left. But now media regulator Ofcom has officially cleared the mouthy presenter on the grounds of freedom of expression.
And the landmark ruling matters because it declares that journalists are still allowed to speak truth to power.
It establishes that even controversial subjects such as racism, sexism and mental health cannot cancel rational debate, or someone’s right to see things another way.
And it shows that we are ALL entitled to our truth, not just the rich and powerful.
In their explosive interview with Oprah, Harry and Meghan launched the most devastating assault on the Royal Family since the Luftwaffe dropped bombs on Buckingham Palace in September 1940.
The Oprah interview did far more damage.
The Royal Family were accused of racism, sexism and coercive control.
An unnamed member was alleged to have raised concerns about baby Archie’s skin colour.
Meghan’s pleas for mental health support were allegedly ignored by callous, uncaring Palace flunkies.
Her passport was allegedly confiscated and she claimed she was banned from seeing her friends.
What made this litany of grievance so corrosive is that none of it was questioned by Oprah Winfrey — not even obvious tosh like the claim Harry and Meghan were secretly married with only their organic chickens as witnesses.
Every poisonous syllable, every incendiary claim, was meekly accepted as gospel truth by gullible Oprah.
But not by Piers. The morning after the Oprah interview, Piers waded into that minefield of alleged racism, sexism and mental health issues. He shimmied and shook with snorting disbelief.
DAMAGE IS DONE
“I’m sorry, I don’t believe a word she says,” Piers told the Good Morning Britain audience, not sounding even remotely sorry.
“I wouldn’t believe her if she read me a weather report. The fact she has expressed an onslaught against our Royal Family is contemptible.”
There were 58,000 complaints, although you suspect the one that mattered most to Carolyn McCall is the one that came from the Duchess of Sussex herself.
Piers chose to quit after refusing to apologise. Although his name has been cleared and he may one day get his job back, the damage is done.
Because dirt sticks. And the accusations against the Royal Family will be for ever accepted as the truth by millions.
But Piers did us all a favour when he had the guts to take issue with Harry and Meghan’s claims . . . because their pliant, simpering sycophants never will.
For all their yakking about compassion, Harry and Meghan have dragged the Royal Family through a sewer in the same year the Queen buried her beloved husband Philip.
As this “caring” couple bleat their complaints in their California mansion, I wonder if they ever give a passing thought to the health and happiness of our 95-year-old monarch.
Harry and Meghan should save some of their famous compassion for her.
- THE World Health Organisation reports that nearly half of Europe’s Covid hotspots are now in Scotland. Nicola Sturgeon probably blames the English.
Get on down, Govey
THEY say you should dance like nobody’s watching. Sadly for Michael Gove, that’s not possible now everyone walks around with a camera in their pocket. Everybody’s watching.
Spotted busting some bad-ass moves alone in an Aberdeen club, the 54-year-old Tory was widely mocked on social media, where there was speculation he was the lovechild of Theresa May and Mr Bean.
Political opponents waded into Gove’s dad-dancing . . . and looked sillier than he did.
Nothing is more fraught with self-consciousness than dancing. But it is the most natural instinct in the world.
I remember my daughter attempting to dance – to Scandalous by Mis-Teeq – before she could walk. She propped herself up against the TV, stared up in mute wonder at the girl group and shook her nappy until she fell over.
When you learn not to give a damn, nothing feels better than dancing the night away.
As the song says, get your back up off the wall.
And get down on it, Minister. As Michael Gove demonstrates, there is absolutely no skill required.
“I think the people of this country have had enough of experts,” Gove once said.
So true, Michael. But we never dreamed you were talking about dancing.
Banking on Bond and Ana to blow away box office blues
CINEMAS are open but box office takings are stuck at 50 per cent of pre-pandemic levels.
The release of some blockbusters – including Tom Cruise’s Top Gun sequel and the latest Mission: Impossible – have been delayed due to a spike in Covid-19 cases in the US.
Last month my daughter and I saw The Suicide Squad, where we were the only punters in the cinema.
This week we saw Stillwater and there were two other people. Maybe cinema as a mass event is now over.
Perhaps people prefer sitting on their sofa watching Netflix, Prime Video and Apple TV+ with Deliveroo coming up the path.
That would be a shame. No matter how big TV screens get, nothing compares to going to the pictures.
Cinema’s last great hope of a revival is the new James Bond movie, No Time To Die, finally scheduled to be released later this month after a two-year delay.
If its heroine Ana de Armas can’t give the movies back their mojo, nothing will.
Do like Cyd did
NICOLE KIDMAN’S photoshoot for Marie Claire is presented as evidence that fishnet tights are back in fashion.
But there are plenty of young stars like Dua Lipa, Rita Ora and Miley Cyrus who have been exploiting the sensuous power of fishnets. Before them it was Kylie Minogue. And before Kylie, Madonna made good use of fishnets.
And before Madonna, Debbie Harry.
And fans of fishnets go all the way back to classic Hollywood glamour girls such as Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe and Cyd Charisse. As far as I can make out, there was never a moment in human history when fishnets were out of fashion.
- IT is said that James Nesbitt’s alarming appearance on The One Show, left, raised a few eyebrows. But it would be easier to raise the Titanic than Nesbitt’s eyebrows.
Three Lions win cup
ENGLAND were a class act against Hungary on Thursday night.
The boys went to a seething, hostile ground where France and Germany struggled to draws in the Euros. And in the screaming face of ugly, unfettered racism, England stayed cool and stuffed Hungary 4-0.
After scoring the first goal, Raheem Sterling stood staring at the heavens, remembering a friend who had died too young, acting as if the barrage of beer cups coming down on him was nothing more than a light rainfall in Manchester.
There is a theory that England should walk off the pitch if our black players are subjected to racist abuse by bigots.
The Hungary game proved it is infinitely better to stay.
Declan Rice mimed taking a sip from a thrown cup. Jack Grealish grinned as he gently lobbed another into touch. Sterling stood calmly in the barrage.
How much better to stay on the pitch and give them a good hiding. Then laugh in their faces.
GQ bags better
THE best party in London was always the GQ Men Of The Year Awards – the only party where the Royal Family and Rolling Stones rubbed tuxedos with Hollywood’s Oscar winners.
Now that Dylan Jones has left the editor’s job at GQ after two decades, the magazine’s glory days are fading, and the Men Of The Year Awards beano is going the same way.
This year there was no Prince Charles, Keith Richards, Michael Caine, Debbie Harry or Iggy Pop, below, on the guest list.
Ed Sheeran and Stormzy were about as starry as it got.
But the goodie bags given to winners are still worth taking home. This year they were reportedly worth £12,000, including watches, private-plane vouchers and – living the dream, baby – a bonsai tree Lego kit.
I fondly remember mine (GQ Writer Of The Year, 2001), which included a Chanel J12 watch.
GQ goodie bags will never die.
- THE security of the Western world is built on one great expectation – that in a moment of historic crisis, the US will fight by Europe’s side.
- That belief died in the dust of Kabul. The dream that brave Americans will again stand by our side, as they did in two world wars last century, is an illusion. But America cannot save Europe. America can’t even save a Third World country from a rabble wearing sandals and toting ancient Kalashnikov rifles. Although the Taliban’s kit has had a major upgrade since Joe Biden ran away.