IPSO has launched an investigation into Jeremy Clarkson’s The Sun column about Meghan Markle, after the press watchdog received more than 25,100 complaints about the article.
It follows an apology by Clarkson on Instagram, one month after his controversial column in which he told readers that he hated the Duchess of Sussex “not like I hate Nicola Sturgeon or Rose West,” but “on a cellular level”.
The former Top Gear presenter faced backlash from politicians, celebrities and members of the public following the comments he made about Markle, which he made in response to the Netflix Harry and Meghan documentary .
The Sun newspaper issued an apology for the piece, with it making history as the Independent Press Standards Organisation’s most complained about story ever.
On Monday 16 January, Clarkson issued a statement on Instagram in which he admitted he was “really sorry” for his comments about Markle. The TV presenter also revealed he had sent Prince Harry and Markle an email apologising for the column on Christmas morning.
A spokesperon for the Duke and Duchess has responded, stating that that Clarkson wrote the email “solely to Prince Harry” and it was “never addressed to Meghan”.
So, what did Jeremy Clarkson say and what has the reaction been? Here’s everything you need to know.
What did Jeremy Clarkson say?
In an op-ed for The Sun which was published on Friday 16 December, Clarkson wrote that he hated Markle “on a cellular level” and wanted people to “throw lumps of excrement” at her.
In the column he said: “I hate her. Not like I hate Nicola Sturgeon or Rose West. I hate her on a cellular level.” Adding: “At night, I’m unable to sleep as I lie there, grinding my teeth and dreaming of the day when she is made to parade naked through the streets of every town in Britain while the crowds chant ‘Shame!’ and thrown lumps of excrement at her.” He then tried to justify his comments claiming that “everyone” his age “thinks the same way.”
What was the reaction to Clarkson’s comments?
There has been condemnation of Clarkson’s comments on social media from across society, including politicians, comedians, celebrities and members of the public.
The article made history as the Independent Press Standards Organisation’s most complained about story ever.
The Sun newspaper also issued an apology saying that it is “sincerely sorry” for the publication. A statement from the newspaper said: “In a tweet earlier this week, Jeremy said he had made a ‘clumsy reference to a scene in Game of Thrones’, which had ‘gone down badly with a great many people’ and he was ‘horrified to have caused so much hurt’. He also said he will be more careful in future.
“Columnists’ opinions are their own, but as a publisher we realise that with free expression comes responsibility. We at The Sun regret the publication of this article and we are sincerely sorry.”
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon called Clarkson’s comments about Markle “beyond the pale”. Reported by Heart Scotland News, she added: “I think what he said about Meghan Markle was deeply misogynist and just downright awful and horrible.”
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak also reacted to the comments shared in Clarkson’s column. Reported by PA Media, speaking in Riga the PM said: “I think for everyone in public life, language matters. You asked about racism. Now, I’ve seen some of the things that have been said.
“I absolutely don’t believe that Britain is a racist country. And I’d hope that as our nation’s first British Asian Prime Minister when I say that it carries some weight.
“You know, I’m really proud of our country, its culture, its resilience, its beauty. And actually, it’s an enormous privilege to champion Britain and indeed, its institutions like the monarchy when I’m out and about on the world stage as I am here today.”
Former Countdown presenter Carol Voderman condemned Clarkson’s article, responding to his claim that “everyone who’s my age thinks the same” with: “No no no. We absolutely do NOT think the same.”
What has Jeremy Clarkson’s daughter said?
Clarkson’s daughter, the podcast host Emily Clarkson, spoke out against his column on social media. Posting on her Instagram Stories on Sunday 18 December, she wrote: “My views are and have always been clear when it comes to misogyny, bullying and the treatment of women by the media. I want to make it very clear that I stand against everything that my dad wrote about Meghan Markle and I remain standing in support of those that are targeted with online hatred.”
Has Jeremy Clarkson apologised?
Clarkson initially issued a statement on Twitter on Monday 19 December, saying that he had “rather put my foot in it”. The presenter did not use the word sorry however, instead adding that he was: “horrified to have caused so much hurt,” and “shall be more careful in future.”
One month to the day the article was released, Clarkson issued an additional statement on his Instagram account, admitting he was “really sorry” for his comments about Markle.
Clarkson’s statement on Monday 16 January said: “One of the strange things I’ve noticed in recent times is that whenever an MP or a well-known person is asked to apologise for something, no matter how heartfelt or profound that apology may be, it’s never enough for the people who called for it in the first place.
“So I’m going to try and buck the trend this morning with an apology for the things I said in a Sun column recently about Meghan Markle.
“I really am sorry. All the way from the balls of my feet to the follicles on my head. This is me putting my hands up. It’s a mea culpa with bells on.”
Clarkson continued: “It was a slow rumble to start with and I ignored it. But then the rumble got louder. So I picked up a copy of The Sun to see what all the fuss was about.
“We’ve all been there, I guess. In that precise moment when we suddenly realise we’ve completely messed up. You are sweaty and cold at the same time. And your head pounds. And you feel sick. I couldn’t believe what I was reading. Had I really said that? It was horrible.”
He also revealed that he had emailed Prince Harry and Markle offering an apology. Clarkson said: “I therefore wrote to everyone who works with me saying how sorry I was and then, on Christmas morning, I e-mailed Harry and Meghan in California to apologise to them too. I said I was baffled by what they had been saying on TV but that the language I’d used in my column was disgraceful and that I was profoundly sorry.”
What have Prince Harry and Meghan said about his apology?
Following Clarkson’s apology on Instagram, a spokesperson for the couple has shared a statement on Twitter addressing the claim the TV presenter had written an email to the couple apologising.
The spokesperson states that Clarkson wrote the email “solely to Prince Harry” and it was “never addressed to Meghan”.
The statement reads: “On December 25, 2022, Mr Clarkson wrote solely to Prince Harry, The Duke of Sussex. The contents of his correspondence were marked private and confidential.”
It continues: “While a new public apology has been issued today by Mr Clarkson, what remains to be addressed is his long-standing pattern of writing articles that spread hate rhetoric, dangerous conspiracy theories and misogyny,” the statement continued. “Unless each of his other pieces were also written ‘in a hurry,’ as he states, it is clear that this is not an isolated incident shared in haste, but rather a series of articles shared in hate.”
Prince Harry has previously spoken out about the column, describing it as “horrific”, “hurtful” and “cruel” during an interview with Tom Bradby for ITV to discuss the release of his memoir, Spare.
He said: “When we’re talking about accountability, you know, just recently, which I know you know about, 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.”
He added: “Um, and you know, 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. To put it mildly.
“Everything to do with my wife, after six years, they haven’t said a single thing.”
Has Jeremy Clarkson been dropped by Amazon?
Reported by Variety, a source told the publication that Amazon wouldn’t be working alongside the presenter beyond seasons of “The Grand Tour” and “Clarkson’s Farm” that are already commissioned. If confirmed to be true, this would mean that the presnter would not be appearing on any new Amazon Prime shows in 2024 and effectively means that there would be no more seasons of either of his shows on the streaming platform.