- By Helen Bushby, Steven McIntosh and Ian Youngs
- entertainment reporter
A column by Jeremy Clarkson in The Sun – in which he wrote about the Duchess of Sussex marching naked in the streets – was sexist, the press regulator has ruled.
A record 25,000 people complained to Ipso, the Independent Press Standards Organization, about the article.
Ipso chairman Lord Faulks said the image “humiliates and degrades the duchess”.
Prince Harry and Meghan accused Clarkson of spreading “hate rhetoric”.
They added that the article published by The Sun in December 2022 was also spreading “dangerous conspiracy theories and misconduct”.
In response to Ipso’s ruling, Sun said it “accepts that free speech comes with responsibility”.
The Sun and its columnist apologized for the column last December and removed the article from its website. However, while it says the column “lacks high editorial standards and should not be published” it does not accept that it violates editors’ rules, saying concerns raised turned out to be “a matter of taste and judgment”.
The watchdog dismissed complaints that the work discriminated against on grounds of race, was inaccurate or sought to harass the duchess.
In the column, Clarkson writes that he “dreams of the day when [Meghan] made to march naked through the streets of every town in England while crowds chanted, ‘What a shame!’ and threw faeces at her.”
He then explained that he had a scene from Game of Thrones in mind, but wrote in a hurry and forgot to mention the TV show.
Elsewhere in the column, Clarkson writes that he hates Meghan “on a cellular level”.
Clarkson compared his hatred of the duchess to his affection for former Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and serial killer Rose West. The regulator found this comparison to be due to all three being female.
Ipso’s chief executive, Charlotte Dewar, told the BBC that the regulator had reviewed complaints from gender equality charity The Fawcett Society and The Wilde Foundation, a charity that helps victims and survivors of abuse.
She said the remedy for this breach was to make Ipso’s decision public to Sun readers, and as well as let the public know the reason for the further discovery, they conducted a “public investigation”. fair, independent, impartial and thorough”.
She confirmed the complaints about the article did not come from the duchess.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today program on Saturday, Ms Dewar said some complainants felt the passages had “racial connotations” but IPSO had not identified the references as discriminatory. behave.
When asked if it mattered if the Sun didn’t accept that it was in breach of the editor’s rules, Ms Dewar said: “It was important to a lot of people that they immediately deleted the article as soon as possible. when it was published and they apologized and accepted it shouldn’t have happened.”
She said the complaint was upheld and the finding meant the newspaper was asked to review the processes that led to the article.
Responding to Ipso’s ruling, The Sun newspaper said: “Half of The Sun’s readers are women and we have a very long and proud history of advocating for women, which changed the lives of many people.”
It admits Ipso ruled that Clarkson’s column “contains an unfortunate reference and gender stereotype of the duchess”.
But it added that the regulator had not supported separate elements of the complaint – that the article was inaccurate, harassed the duchess or included discriminatory references on the basis of race. ethnicity.
The BBC has reached out to Prince Harry and Meghan for comment, along with Clarkson.
The Fawcett Association’s chief executive, Jemima Olchawski, called Clarkson’s column “vile and insulting”.
“This is a particularly egregious example of the media’s stigma against women, and our case is that the language in it and the jokes that Jeremy Clarkson used contributed to gender discrimination. and discriminate against Meghan Markle, which is bad for her,” she told the BBC.
She called for an investigation into how these “malicious comments” appeared on the pages “of one of our largest newspapers”.
Senior Labor MP Harriet Harman, the society’s incoming chair, called the Ipso ruling “a huge step forward for women in the fight against gender discrimination in the media”.
Clarkson has said that when he read the article in the newspaper, he realized he had been “completely confused”.
In January, he said he emailed the couple over Christmas 2022 to tell them “the language I used in my column was disgraceful and I’m deeply sorry “.
The Sun, as well as removing the column from its website at the time, said it was “sincerely apologetic”.
However, a spokesperson for Harry and Meghan has denied that apology, accusing the newspaper of profiteering and exploiting “hate, violence and misogyny”.
“A real apology would be a change in their coverage and ethical standards for all,” they said.
The article attracted the highest number of complaints since Ipso was founded in 2014.