Culture Minister defends Jeremy Clarkson’s ‘right to say what he wants’

The Culture Minister has defended Jeremy Clarkson’s “right to say what he wants” after his column on the Duchess of Sussex in the Sun was widely criticized.

The article, in which Clarkson, 62, says she “hates” Meghan and imagines her being paraded and publicly shamed in British towns, became Ipso’s most-complained article since it was published last month.

While The Sun later said he regretted publishing the column, Clarkson said he was “horrified that it caused so much pain.”

A spokesperson for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex branded Sun’s apology “nothing more than a PR stunt”.

Culture Minister Michelle Donelan told BBC Radio 4’s The Media Show on Wednesday: “I defend her right to say what she wants.

“I believe very much in freedom of expression. Obviously, we should all be careful about what we say and the consequences, but I am a firm believer in freedom of speech.

“I think he has a right to say what he wants to say, but of course he would get the backlash he got and it would interest some people.

“I wouldn’t say what he said and I disagree with the comments he made, categorically no, of course I disagree.

Michelle Donelan

Michelle Donelan (James Manning/PA)

“We must have freedom of the press, we must have a position where people can express opinions that we all disagree with.

“This is the nature of our media industry and our press, and it’s important for democracy, it’s important to expose things, it’s important to challenge democracy, hold politicians to account.

“I read the newspapers every day, I see many stories that I disagree with or viewpoints with which I disagree, and that’s very true.

“And I always defended the freedom and talent of journalists and their right to write this content. That doesn’t mean I agree with all of this, but that’s the nature of freedom of speech – of course, this shouldn’t deviate into illegal content or go in certain directions.

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The Duchess of Sussex (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

In an interview with The News Agents podcast, he added: “I think we need to contextualize Clarkson’s comments.

“They were not illegal. They were ugly. And he was met with a great cry that followed them. And he had to apologize in front of everyone.”

In an interview with ITV’s Tom Bradby on Sunday to discuss his autobiography Spare, Harry branded the article about his wife “brutal”.

The Duke added that the piece encourages people around the world to believe it is an acceptable way of treating women.

On Thursday, Ms Donelan confirmed that the Government has shelved plans to privatize Channel 4, spearheaded by her predecessor Nadine Dorries, under Boris Johnson’s premiership.

The move caused Miss Dorries to turn around.

Ms Donelan said she had spoken to Ms. Dorries prior to the announcement and that she was “a very respected colleague”.

He added: “He has the right to his own opinion on these matters. I know you’ve worked hard for this agenda.

“He takes a different perspective on this, but we both share this concern for sustainability.”

Ms Donelan denied that the initial decision to privatize Channel 4 was ideological.

He said: “Basically, what fueled this agenda was sustainability and looking after the interests of taxpayers.

“This was absolutely central to the work I was conducting.”

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