Ipso received more than 25,000 complaints about piece in which presenter said he ‘hated’ duchess
In the piece, Jeremy Clarkson wrote that he dreamed of the Duchess of Sussex being paraded naked through British towns. Composite: EPA/Rex
The UK’s press watchdog is to investigate Jeremy Clarkson’s column in the Sun about the Duchess of Sussex after it received more than 25,100 complaints.
The Duke and Duchess last month accused the presenter of writing articles “that spread hate rhetoric, dangerous conspiracy theories and misogyny” after he wrote that he “hated” Meghan and had dreamed of her being paraded naked through British towns and publicly shamed.
As well as announcing the investigation on Thursday, the Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso) said it was taking forward complaints from two groups, the Fawcett Society and the Wilde Foundation, which said they were affected by various breaches of the regulator’s Editors’ Code of Practice: clause 1 (accuracy), clause 3 (harassment) and clause 12 (discrimination).
The number of complaints to Ipso was a record for the regulator. The column on 16 December 2022 was also published online on the Sun’s website, but was later removed.
Clarkson wrote in the piece that he hated Meghan on a “cellular level”, and added: “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 throw lumps of excrement at her.”
In a tweet on 19 December, he stated: “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.”
The presenter later revealed he had contacted Harry and Meghan on Christmas morning to say sorry.
But the royal couple said his email was directed solely to the Duke of Sussex and that “what remains to be addressed is his longstanding pattern of writing articles that spread hate rhetoric, dangerous conspiracy theories and misogyny”.
They added in a statement last month: “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.”
The duke called the article about his wife “horrific, hurtful and cruel” during an interview with ITV’s Tom Bradby to discuss his autobiography, Spare, adding that what Clarkson had written would encourage people around the world to believe it was an acceptable way to treat women.
The Fawcett Society is a charity that campaigns for gender equality and women’s rights, while the Wilde Foundation is a platform created to “promote, educate, empower and heal women and girls, victims and survivors of all kinds of abuse”.
Jemima Olchawski, the chief executive of the Fawcett Society, said: “Of course, the comments were deeply offensive but it goes beyond that. Clarkson’s misogynistic and racist views appeared in one of our biggest national newspapers, they will have been seen and sanctioned by experienced journalists before they were published in the Sun. It is this endorsement of these toxic views that is also extremely troubling.
“Sexism, racism and misogyny have no place in our society. In the UK one woman is murdered every three days by a man; women and girls experience violence, hate and harassment at the hands of men – and it’s views like Clarkson’s that play a huge part in normalising this.”
Ipso said it would make the outcome of the investigation public through its website and on its social media channels when it is concluded.
A spokesperson for the Sun said: “We can confirm we have now received a formal complaint from Ipso. We are considering our response. The Sun has sincerely apologised, and expressed regret at the publication of the column. We have no further comment at this time.”