Jeremy Clarkson’s comments about Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, were “awful” but he is staying on as host of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? “at the moment”, a senior figure at ITV has said.
Kevin Lygo made the remarks after Clarkson’s column in The Sun became the Independent Press Standards Organisation’s (IPSO) most complained about article ever.
Speaking at a Broadcasting Press Guild event in London on Tuesday, Mr Lygo, managing director of ITV Studios, said: “I would say what he writes in a newspaper column… We have no control over what he says.
“We hire him as a consummate broadcaster of the most famous quiz on television, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?
“So it’s not quite in our wheelhouse but I don’t know what he was thinking when he wrote that. It was awful.”
Asked if ITV will keep Clarkson as host of the quiz show, a position he inherited from Chris Tarrant in 2018, Mr Lygo said: “Yes, at the moment we are.”
Asked if Clarkson represents ITV’s values, Mr Lygo replied: “No, of course he doesn’t in that instance.”
It comes after the regulator said the piece, which has since been removed from The Sun’s website at Clarkson‘s request, had received more than 20,800 complaints as of 5pm on Tuesday.
The number surpassed the total number of complaints the media regulator received in 2021, which was 14,355.
Meanwhile, more than 60 MPs have written to the editor of The Sun condemning the column “in the strongest terms”.
The letter put forward by Conservative MP Caroline Nokes demanded that the publication take action against Clarkson.
It said the former Top Gear presenter’s “hateful” article about the Duchess of Sussex had contributed to an “unacceptable climate of hatred and violence”.
His column, which was published on Sunday, said he was “dreaming of the day when she is made to parade naked through the streets of every town in Britain while crowds chant, ‘Shame!’ and throw lumps of excrement at her”.
The remarks sparked a huge backlash, with Clarkson’s daughter Emily, as well as many others, speaking out against him.
Clarkson responded with a statement, in which he said he would be more careful in the future.
However, this has been criticised for not including an apology.
“Oh dear. I’ve rather put my foot in it. In a column I wrote about Meghan, I made a clumsy reference to a scene in Game of Thrones and this has gone down badly with a great many people. I’m horrified to have caused so much hurt and I shall be more careful in future,” he wrote on Twitter.
‘Enough is enough’
The letter written by MPs to The Sun’s editor Victoria Newton reads: “We are horrified at the recent article by Jeremy Clarkson in your publication. As parliamentarians of every persuasion, we condemn in the strongest terms the violent misogynistic language against the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle.
“This sort of language has no place in our country, and it is unacceptable that it was allowed to be published in a mainstream newspaper. Ms Markle has faced multiple credible threats to her life, requiring the intervention of the Metropolitan Police.
“Hateful articles like the one written by Clarkson do not exist in a vacuum, and directly contribute to this unacceptable climate of hatred and violence.”