Rupert Murdoch’s The Sun and British pubcaster ITV are facing pressure from dozens of UK MPs over the Jeremy Clarkson row sparked by the former Top Gear host using “violent, misogynistic language” against Meghan Markle. Letters can be seen below in full.
Led by Women and Equalities Committee Chair Caroline Noakes, around 50 MPs have this morning put their names to a letter to The Sun editor Victoria Newton to “condemn in the strongest possible terms the violent, misogynistic language used against The Duchess of Sussex,” while calling for “definitive action” to be taken against Clarkson and work to be done to prevent the situation happening again.
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The Sun has already retracted the column from Friday 16 December and Clarkson, who also hosts Clarkson’s Farm for Prime Video, apologised yesterday, stating he was “horrified to have caused so much hurt.”
Meanwhile, Scottish MP John Nicolson has written directly to ITV CEO Carolyn McCall, urging her to take Clarkson off air, respond to Clarkson’s behavior and branding his apology a “mocking tweet.”
Clarkson is the host of ITV’s Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, a primetime gameshow format that draws millions of viewers each week and just wrapped its 38th season.
Nicolson highlighted that British press regulator IPSO has already had 6,000 complaints about the article, which is almost half the entire total of complaints for 2021. He pointed to ITV’s Statement of Programme Policy and Social Purpose Strategy, which has tenets including championing mental health and “fostering creativity by embracing diversity and inclusion.”
“I do not believe that Mr Clarkson should appear on our television screens again,” wrote Nicolson. “It would be especially inappropriate for him to be used as a presenter by any Public Service Broadcaster.”
Neither ITV nor Amazon had responded to requests for comment at time of writing but Deadline understands ITV will respond to the letter to McCall in due course. Any decision made by ITV overe Clarkson’s future would have to be in conjunction with Who Wants to be a Millionaire?‘s Sony-backed producer Stellify Media. The situation has shades of Piers Morgan’s departure from ITV’s Good Morning Britain, which was also sparked by a rant against Markle.
In the Noakes letter, which had signatories including former Conservative leadership candidate Andrea Leadsom and former Labour Deputy Leader Harriet Harman, the MPs accused The Sun of stoking a climate of violence against women.
“Ms Markle has faced multiple credible threats to her life, requiring the intervention of the Metropolitan Police,” it said. “Hateful articles like this one written by Mr Clarkson do not exist in a vacuum and directly contribute to this unacceptable climate of hatred and violence.”
Referring to a scene in Game of Thrones, Clarkson’s column said he wanted Markle to be “made to parade naked through the streets of every town in Britain while the crowds chant, ‘Shame!’ and throw lumps of excrement at her,” while he posited “everyone who’s my age thinks the same way.”
There was a swift backlash, thousands of complaints and The Sun had deleted the online article by yesterday lunchtime.
Clarkson is never far from media scandal and was dropped from Top Gear in 2015 following an “unprovoked physical attack” on a producer.
Markle and husband Prince Harry have dominated the news agenda all month following the release of their Netflix docuseries Harry & Meghan.
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