Jeremy Clarkson to remain host of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? says ITV boss

Kevin Lygo says presenter should apologise for column about Duchess of Sussex that attracted record number of complaints

Jeremy Clarkson will remain host of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? “at the moment”, ITV’s boss has said, as the presenter’s comments about the Duchess of Sussex attracted a record number of press regulator complaints.

Kevin Lygo said ITV had “no control” over what Clarkson said in his Sun newspaper column but that “he should apologise” for his comments.

In a recent column for the Sun, Clarkson said he felt “hate” for Meghan and dreamed of seeing her publicly humiliated in the street. Clarkson later said he was referencing a scene in Game of Thrones and asked for the column to be taken offline because people had misunderstood it.

The Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso) said Clarkson’s newspaper column had become the most complained-about article in its history, attracting 20,800 complaints by Tuesday evening.

Lygo, the managing director of ITV Studios, told members of the Broadcasting Press Guild: “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 would keep Clarkson as host of the quizshow, Lygo said: “Yes, at the moment we are. What he says in the papers we have no control of.”

Asked whether Clarkson represented ITV’s values, Mr Lygo replied: “No, of course he doesn’t in that instance.”

On Monday, Clarkson responded to the controversy, while falling short of 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.”

The issue comes amid renewed scrutiny of British newspaper regulation after the release of Netflix’s Harry & Meghan documentary, where the royal couple set out their unhappiness with the coverage they had received.

On Monday, the Guardian revealed that the chair of Ipso, which will investigate the claims against Clarkson’s column the Sun, had been due to dine at the flat of the Sun owner Rupert Murdoch – but pulled out earlier that day.

Ipso said it would take longer than usual to assess whether there had been any breach of its rules because of the volume of complaints. However, Ipso’s code does not cover matters of taste and decency – meaning it is unlikely that Clarkson broke any rules.

The press regulation campaign group Hacked Off has seized on the Clarkson column. It has organised a letter signed by celebrities who have suffered media intrusion – including Sienna Miller, Steve Coogan, and Simon Pegg – urging the government to implement the recommendations of the Leveson inquiry on press regulation.


Jim Waterson Media editor

The GuardianTramp

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