Celia Walden: who is Piers Morgan’s wife and Payday author, and what did she say about the GMB Ofcom ruling?

 Ofcom ruled that Good Morning Britain was not in breach of the broadcasting code over Piers Morgan’s controversial comments about Meghan Markle

Former Good Morning Britain host Piers Morgan been cleared by Ofcom of breaking industry guidelines when he went on a scathing rant about Meghan Markle.

Today (2 September), his wife appeared on the same ITV morning show he resigned from in March, in which she addressed the Ofcom findings and Piers’ future career.

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A novelist and journalist, she released her new book ‘Payday’ on 31 August - a fictional thriller dubbed “Impossible to put down” by Birdget Jones’ author Helen Fielding.

So, who is Celia Walden, what has she said about her controversial husband and what is her book about? This is what you need to know.

Who is Celia Walden?

Walden was born in 1975 in Paris, France, the only child of former Tory MP George Walden.

In 2010, she married journalist and broadcaster Piers Morgan after they met during a GQ magazine event in 2006.

She was educated at Westminster School before attending Cambridge University. She went on to become a gossip columnist and journalist.

Walden’s early career was spent at The Evening Standard and the Daily Mail, before becoming the last editor of The Daily Telegraph’s now defunct diary, ‘Spy’.

Her controversial comments in her columns and books have been criticised vehemently.

This includes when she wrote about cyclists in her Daily Telegraph column, stating: “and of course this lot [cyclists] are so confident on the roads that they will all be plugged into their iPods, calmly humming ‘lalalalala’ along to Sasha Distel, as that articulated lorry indicates left".

The comment came just days after a cyclist was killed when she collided with a bin lorry in London, which had turned left into her path.

Following the end of her editorial role, she published her first novel, Harm’s Way, in August 2008.

In 2010, she married Morgan in an intimate church ceremony in the Oxfordshire village of Swinbrook.

In November 2011, the pair welcomed their first child together,  Elise Pughe-Morgan. Piers has three children to his former wife, Marion Shalloe.

In an interview on ITV’s Lorraine in 2018, Walden said she and her husband rarely argue as "Piers and I have the same views on feminism. And he is very much a feminist," adding: "He believes it’s about equality."

When asked by Lorraine if Celia believes she’s in charge, she laughed: "I think women are always quietly in charge, but it’s best to let the men think they are."

What did she say about Piers’ exit from Good Morning Britain?

On 2 September, Walden appeared on GMB, the very show Piers resigned from in March.

She spoke candidly about her relationship with Morgan and revealed she and his former co-host Susanna Reid regularly text one another.

Walden joked that Reid was the “other woman” in Piers’ life and begged her to take him back, suggesting that he should return to the show.

Her comments come as industry regulator Ofcom found ITV had not broken broadcasting regulations during the GMB show on 9 August, when Morgan said he thought Meghan Markle was a liar.

Walden said the report wording was “strongly worded and robust,” which her husband has been pleased about.

The Ofcom report concluded "Consistent with freedom of expression, Mr Morgan was entitled to say he disbelieved the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s allegations and to hold and express strong views that rigorously challenged their account.

"The [Ofcom broadcasting] code allows for individuals to express strongly held and robustly argued views, including those that are potentially harmful or highly offensive, and for broadcasters to include these in their programming.

"The restriction of such views would, in our view, be an unwarranted and chilling restriction on freedom of expression both of the broadcaster and the audience."

Asked about what Piers might do next, she added: “He’s got some irons in the fire. I don’t think he’s going to be kicking around the house for much longer."

She also made light of his fiery attitude, joking ITV producers had security guards at the ready in case he stormed onto the set while she was on-air.

Speaking about his reaction to the Ofcom report, she said: "It’s been a strange few months, but I think Piers is very jubilant today as you would expect.”

Celia was also on the show to plug her new book, Payday.

What is Celia Walden’s ‘Payday’ about?

Touted as ‘The most addictive ‘what would you do?’ thriller you’ll read this year’, Payday is a fictional ‘whodunit’ novel.

It was reported in December 2020 that publishers Sphere won the "fiercely intelligent" thriller at auction, in a "competitive" six-figure deal.

Other reviews include one by Bridget Jones’ author Helen Fielding, who credits it as  “Impossible to put down”.

The synopsis reads: “Can you guess who killed Jamie Lawrence? Discover the brand new thriller everybody is talking about . . .

“Late one night, three women share secrets.  They barely know each other, but they all know Jamie Lawrence. They know what he’s guilty of. And they agree something must be done.

“But as their plan spirals out of control, they begin to doubt themselves . . . and each other. Then Jamie is found dead. And suddenly everything is at stake. As lies are unravelled and truths exposed, two urgent questions emerge:

“Who is really guilty? And who will have to pay?”

Payday was published on 31 August, you can buy Payday from Waterstone’s in hardback for £12.99.