Prince Harry blames media for vaccine hesitancy hours after losing Ofcom bid to silence Piers Morgan


Prince Harry has blamed ‘those who peddle in lies and fear’ in the news and social media for vaccine hesitancy during a surprise virtual appearance at the GQ Awards.

The Duke of Sussex, 36, delivered a chiding speech urging governments to do more to vaccinate poorer countries, warning ‘until every community can access the vaccine and until every community is connected to trustworthy information about the vaccine, then we are all at risk’.

Speaking from his Montecito mansion more than 5,00 miles away, the beleaguered Prince lectured his star-studded London audience on ‘media misinformation’ and the importance of sharing vaccines.

Harry later presented the Heroes of the Year Award to Professor Dame Sarah Gilbert, Professor Catherine Green and the team behind the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine at Wednesday evening’s GQ Awards in London.

In attendance was Piers Morgan, who yesterday won a resounding victory for free speech after regulator Ofcom ruled he had not broken the broadcasting code for his comments on the Duchess of Sussex following her bombshell Oprah interview.

Mr Morgan’s ITV colleagues and a string of respected broadcasters today hailed Ofcom’s ruling confirming his right to free speech after the watchdog dismissed 57,000 complaints about his criticism of Meghan Markle.   

Senior British journalists have declared that the judgment meant a ‘pillar of our freedom’ in the UK had been ‘reinforced’. 

The Duke of Sussex, speaking at a surprise virtual appearance at the GQ Awards at the Tate Modern in London, delivered a lecturing speech urging governments to do more to vaccinate poorer countries

Prince Harry blamed 'those who peddle lies and fear' in the news and on social media for vaccine hesitancy

 Prince Harry blamed ‘those who peddle lies and fear’ in the news and on social media for vaccine hesitancy

Prince Harry was speaking before presenting a prize of Professor Dame Sarah Gilbert, Professor Catherine Green and the team behind the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine at Wednesday evening's GQ Awards in London

Prince Harry was speaking before presenting a prize of Professor Dame Sarah Gilbert, Professor Catherine Green and the team behind the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine at Wednesday evening’s GQ Awards in London

His comments come hours after Piers Morgan, who was in the audience at the GQ awards in London, won a resounding victory for free speech

His comments come hours after Piers Morgan, who was in the audience at the GQ awards in London, won a resounding victory for free speech 

Prince Harry said: ‘As people sit in the room with you tonight, more than a third of the global population has received at least one dose of the vaccine.

‘That’s more than five billion shots given around the world so far.

‘It sounds like a major accomplishment and in many ways it is, but there is a huge disparity between who can and cannot access the vaccine.

‘Less than 2% of people in the developing world have received a single dose at this point. And many of the healthcare workers are still not vaccinated.

‘We cannot move forward together unless we address this imbalance as one. At the same time, families around the world are being overwhelmed by masses of misinformation across news media and social media, where those who peddle in lies and fear are creating vaccine hesitancy, which in turn leads to divided communities and eroding trust.

‘This is a system we need to break if we are to overcome Covid-19 and the risk of new variants.’

Harry hailed the team behind the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, who received the heroes of the year award, as ‘heroes of the highest order’ who ‘have done their part’.

‘They are our nation’s pride and we are deeply indebted to their service. For the rest of us, including global governments, pharmaceutical leaders and heads of business, we have to keep doing our part,’ he said.

‘That must include sharing vaccine science and supporting and empowering developing countries with more flexibility. Where you are born should not affect your ability to survive when the drugs and know-how exist to keep you alive and well.’

Mr Morgan's ITV colleagues and a string of respected broadcasters today hailed Ofcom's ruling confirming his right to free speech after the watchdog dismissed 57,000 complaints about his criticism of Meghan Markle's Oprah interview (above)

Mr Morgan’s ITV colleagues and a string of respected broadcasters today hailed Ofcom’s ruling confirming his right to free speech after the watchdog dismissed 57,000 complaints about his criticism of Meghan Markle’s Oprah interview (above)

Piers Morgan and Good Morning Britain have been cleared of breaching broadcasting standards over a heated debate about Harry and Meghan's Oprah interview where he said that he didn't 'believe a word she says' on March 8 (pictured)

Piers Morgan and Good Morning Britain have been cleared of breaching broadcasting standards over a heated debate about Harry and Meghan’s Oprah interview where he said that he didn’t ‘believe a word she says’ on March 8 (pictured)

Within 48 hours of the Oprah interview on March 7 this year, Mr Morgan was forced to quit GMB after he refused to apologise for his ‘honestly held opinions’, costing ITV around 790,000 viewers and millions more in advertising revenue with the ratings gap between GMB and rival BBC Breakfast still growing. On the day Piers quit, GMB was in the lead. 

Other complainants to Ofcom accused Piers of failing to be ‘duly impartial’, ‘misrepresenting facts’ and ‘mocking’ Meghan’s American accent. Complaints that his views on GMB on March 8 and March 9 were unsuitable for children were also thrown out.

The UK’s broadcasting watchdog this morning called attempts to silence the MailOnline columnist a ‘chilling restriction on freedom of expression’ after the Duchess of Sussex was among a wave of people who complained that his questioning of her account of royal racism and suicidal thoughts was ‘harmful’ and ‘offensive’ to viewers. 

Ofcom today found no rules were breached and backed Mr Morgan’s right to ‘rigorously challenge’ the Duchess’s account of suffering suicidal thoughts and claims she experienced racism at the hands of the Royal Family. The decision has led to a flurry of calls demanding he is given his job back, with fans using the hashtag #bringbackpiers claiming the show is ‘dying a slow death without him’.

In complete vindication for the journalist, 56, Ofcom ruled: ‘Mr Morgan was entitled to say he disbelieved the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s allegations and to hold and express strong views that rigorously challenged their account’.

And in a damning indictment of his former bosses and the 50,000-plus people who complained, the watchdog found: ‘The restriction of such views would, in our view, be an unwarranted and chilling restriction on freedom of expression both of the broadcaster and the audience.

Speaking to the Sun, Mr Morgan slammed the Duchess of Sussex as the ‘Queen of Woke’ and described her as a ‘whiny, forked-tounge actress’.

Mr Morgan said: ‘The woke brigade think they can vilify, shame, silence and get fired anyone who has an opinion they don’t like.

‘Meghan Markle is the queen of this culture, who personally sought to have me lose my job — and succeeded.

‘Why are she and Prince Harry entitled to have their opinion but I’m not entitled to mine?’

Mr Morgan immediately hit back at ITV's statement for ignoring the central thrust of Ofcom's conclusion amid calls for him to be reinstated on their flagship GMB programme

Mr Morgan immediately hit back at ITV’s statement for ignoring the central thrust of Ofcom’s conclusion amid calls for him to be reinstated on their flagship GMB programme

The ruling by Ofcom puts CEO Carolyn McCall – formerly of the left-wing Guardian newspaper – under pressure to explain why she did not stick by Mr Morgan, a decision which has cost the station millions. 

Meghan Markle reportedly wrote directly to ITV boss Dame Carolyn McCall the night before Mr Morgan was forced out, ‘demanding his head on a plate’, he wrote in his MailOnline column. 

Prince Harry’s surprise GQ Awards speech in full 

‘I’m deeply honoured to be introducing our final awardees, who you’ll immediately recognise for their landmark contribution to the fight against COVID-19.

‘Our heroes of this evening are Professor Sarah Gilbert, Doctor Catherine Green, and the entire team of dedicated Oxford scientists. 

‘Their breakthrough research on the Oxford Vaccine has brought the world one of our greatest tools for achieving vaccine equity.

‘They also approached their mission with a humanitarian urgency. In April of last year, the Oxford Team packed up a shipment of research cultures and stealthily sent it to India—an early example of the biotech collaboration we need to bring this global crisis to an end.

‘Until every community can access the vaccine, and until every community is connected to trustworthy information about the vaccine, then we are all at risk. 

‘That’s a common refrain my wife and I have heard in convenings with vaccine experts, heads of industry, community advocates, and global leaders.

‘As people sit in the room with you tonight, more than a third of the global population has received at least one dose of the vaccine. 

‘That’s more than five billion shots given around the world so far. 

‘It sounds like a major accomplishment, and in many ways is. 

‘But there is a huge disparity between who can and cannot access the vaccine. 

‘Less than two percent of people in the developing world have received a single dose at this point, and many of their healthcare workers are still not even vaccinated. 

‘We cannot move forward together unless we address this imbalance as one.

‘At the same time, families around the world are being overwhelmed by mass-scale misinformation across ‘news’ media and social media, where those who peddle in lies and fear are creating vaccine hesitancy, which in turn is dividing communities and eroding trust.

‘This is a system we need to break if we are to overcome COVID-19 and the rise of new variants.

‘The Oxford Team have done their part. They are heroes of the highest order who gave us an instrument to fight this disease. They are our nation’s pride, and we are deeply indebted to their service.

‘For the rest of us—including global governments, pharmaceutical leaders, and heads of business—we have to keep doing our part. 

‘That must include sharing vaccine science and supporting and empowering developing countries with more flexibility. 

‘Where you’re born should not affect your ability to survive, when the drugs and know-how exist to keep you alive and well.

‘Thank you, again, to Professor Gilbert and Doctor Green, who The Guardian called “Two ordinary people who managed to pull off an extraordinary feat while dealing with the everyday stresses that come with being full-time mums and breadwinners in a notoriously insecure and poorly paid field.”

‘But tonight, we’re not honouring two ordinary people. These are two exceptional people—with a remarkable team—who are a bulwark of humanity.’

 



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