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

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

The article, in which 62-year-old Clarkson said he “hates” Meghan and dreamed of her being paraded around UK cities and publicly shamed, became the Independent Press Standards Organization’s most-trafficked article after it was published last month ( ipso).

The Sun later said it regretted publishing the column, while Clarkson said he was “appalled to have caused so much damage”.

We need to have freedom of the press, we need to have a position where people can express opinions that we don’t all agree withMichelle Donelan

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

Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan told BBC Radio 4’s The Media Show on Wednesday: “I defend his right to say whatever he wants.

“I believe very, very strongly in freedom of speech. Of course we all need to be aware of what we say and the implications of it, but I believe in freedom of speech.

“I think he had every right to say what he wanted to say but obviously it would evoke the reaction it got and it would affect a range of people.

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


Michelle Donelan (James Manning/PA)

“We need to have freedom of the press, we need to have a position where people can express opinions that we don’t all agree with.

“It’s the nature of our media sector and our press and it’s important for democracy, it’s important to expose things, it’s important to challenge democracy, to hold politicians accountable.

“I read the newspapers every day, I see a lot of stories I don’t agree with or the perspective I don’t agree with and that’s totally right.

“And I would always stand up for the freedom of journalists and their ability and right to write that content. That doesn’t mean I agree with all of this, but that’s the nature of free speech – it shouldn’t veer off into illegal content, of course, or go in any particular direction.”


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

In an interview with The News Agents podcast, she added, “I think we need to put Clarkson’s comments in context.

“They weren’t illegal. They were rude. And he faced a great outcry that followed them. And he had to apologize very publicly.”

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

The Duke added that the play encouraged people around the world to believe it was an acceptable way to treat women.

On Thursday, Ms Donelan confirmed the government had scrapped plans to privatize Channel 4, spearheaded by her predecessor Nadine Dorries under Boris Johnson’s tenure.

The move prompted Ms Dorries to strike at the reversal.

Ms Donelan said she spoke to Ms Dorries ahead of the announcement and said she was a “very respected colleague”.

She added: “She has a right to her opinion on these things. I know that she has worked very hard on this agenda.

“She brings this up from a different angle, but we both share a concern for sustainability.”

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

She said: “Basically, this agenda was all about sustainability and protecting taxpayers’ interests.

“That was certainly at the heart of my work.” Culture Secretary defends Jeremy Clarkson’s ‘right to say what he wants’

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