Prince Harry on Jeremy Clarkson’s comments on Meghan
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The Culture Secretary today defended Jeremy Clarkson’s freedom of speech after he sparked a huge backlash over comments about Meghan Markle. Michelle Donelan insisted the former Top Gear presenter has a “right to be able to say what he wants”.
But the Cabinet minister added that she would not have made the controversial remarks herself.
A furore erupted last month after Mr Clarkson wrote in a column for The Sun that he “hated” the Duchess of Sussex and dreamed of her being paraded through British towns and publicly shamed.
Both the newspaper and Mr Clarkson have since apologised for the piece, which has become the Independent Press Standards Organisation’s most complained-about article.
In an interview with the BBC today, the Culture Secretary said: “I think that he had the right to say what he wanted to say.
“But obviously it was going to get the reaction that it got and it was going to concern a number of people.
“I wouldn’t have said what he said and I don’t align myself with the comments that he made, categorically no, of course I don’t.”
Asked if the article backed up Prince Harry’s complaints about the British press, Ms Donelan added: “No, we do have to have a freedom of press.
“We do have to have a position where people can air opinions that we don’t all agree with, that is the nature of our media sector and press.
“It’s important for democracy, it’s important for exposing things, it’s important for challenging democracy, holding politicians to account.
“I would always champion journalists’ freedom and their ability and right to be able to write that content.
“Of course that shouldn’t stray into illegal content, or go in certain directions, but – yeah – I defend his right to be able to say what he wants.”
Mr Clarkson’s comments attracted criticism from high-profile figures, politicians, and his own daughter Emily Clarkson.
The TV presenter said he had made a “clumsy reference to a scene in Game Of Thrones” in the piece.
Mr Clarkson said he was “horrified to have caused so much hurt” and that he would “be more careful in future”.
The newspaper removed the article from their website and made a public apology, which was branded “nothing more than a PR stunt” by the Sussexes.
The Duke of Sussex went on to blast Mr Clarkson’s comment piece during an interview this week with ITV’s Tom Bradby to promote his bombshell memoir Spare.
And he hit out at the monarchy for not speaking out on the controversy.
Harry said: “When we’re talking about accountability… the Jeremy Clarkson article, so not only did what he said was horrific and is hurtful and cruel towards my wife, but it also encourages other people around the UK and around the world, men particularly, to go and think that it’s acceptable to treat women that way.
“To use my stepmother’s words recently as well, there is a global pandemic of violent – violence against women.
“It’s no longer a case of me asking for accountability, but at this point the world is asking for accountability, and the world is asking for some form of comment from the monarchy but the silence is deafening.”
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