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Piers Morgan has defended himself after he was accused of behaving as a “bully” and “not as a journalist”.
The Good Morning Britain (GMB) presenter attracted criticism yet again for his domineering interview technique after his treatment of safeguarding minister Victoria Atkins on the ITV show.
Conservative MP Simon Hoare tweeted: “I’m afraid @piersmorgan is not acting as a journalist. As a barrack room lawyer? Yes. As a saloon bar bore? Yes. As a bully? Yes. As a show off? Undoubtedly. He is not a seeker after truth: he’s a male chicken.”
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Morgan, 55, hit back: “Actually, all I am doing – with @susannareid100 – is exposing how disgracefully poor so many of your Govt ministers are at answering even basic questions during this crisis. It’s shameful.”
The former tabloid editor questioned Atkins on the breakfast show about accusations the government had failed to act upon the results of Exercise Cygnus – the 2016 NHS simulation of the impact of a flu epidemic which warned of a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE).
Atkins failed to provide answers to Morgan’s repeated questioning and was also accused by him of laughing during the interview.
He tweeted afterwards: “This minister’s performance in this interview was a total disgrace. How can they be so woefully, shamefully ill-informed??”
The accusations against Morgan come as it broadcasting regulator Ofcom revealed it would not be pursuing an investigation against GMB in relation to his interview of care minister Helen Whately on 15 April.
The interview was branded “excruciating” and prompted almost 2,000 complaints.
A second interview on 22 April has now received more than 1,200 complaints, while a further 600 were made following an interview with health secretary Matt Hancock.
Ofcom said in a statement: "His guests were given adequate opportunity to put their points across and counter the presenter's criticisms.
"In Ofcom's view, in line with freedom of expression, it is clearly in the public interest that broadcasters are able to hold those making political decisions to account, particularly during a major national crisis, such as the coronavirus pandemic."
Ofcom tweeted: “We’re usually happy with you keeping us busy. But right now we’re struggling to keep up after you asked your followers to contact us.
“This means we may fail to help the people that need us most – such as the vulnerable or elderly. So could you please help us out and go easy on the mentions? Any help appreciated.”
The media watchdog warned ITV of the risks of Morgan’s “combative” presenting style.
The broadcasting regulator decided not to take action over Morgan mimicking a Chinese voiceover while discussing the Queen’s grandson Peter Phillips’ appearance in an advert for Jersey Fresh Milk, on 21 January.
Ofcom launched a preliminary investigation after receiving over 1,600 complaints from viewers who considered the behaviour was offensive and racist.
But it warned ITV: “There are compliance risks in relying on a ‘combative dynamic’ between presenters as a way to provide challenge and context for the broadcast of content which may cause offence.”