British tabloid The Sun has apologized for a column written by former “Top Gear” host Jeremy Clarkson in which he wrote he “hates” Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, on a “cellular level” and suggested she be made to “parade naked” through Britain while people “throw lumps of excrement at her.”
“Columnists’ opinions are their own, but as a publisher, we realise that with free expression comes responsibility,” the newspaper wrote in a statement published on its website on Friday evening local time. “We at The Sun regret the publication of this article and we are sincerely sorry.”
The statement added that Clarkson’s article had been removed from its website and archives.
The Sun is among a number of British tabloids that Meghan and her husband Prince Harry have had long-running enmity towards, with Harry launching legal action against the newspaper in 2019 over alleged phone-hacking.
Clarkson is a writer and broadcaster who, as well as writing a weekly column for The Sun, also stars in Amazon Prime Video show “Clarkson’s Farm” and hosts the British version of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” on ITV.
In 2015 Clarkson was sacked from the BBC‘s enormously popular show “Top Gear” after he was accused of punching a producer, Oisin Tymon. Tymon later sued Clarkson for racial discrimination and injury. The case was settled out of court, with Clarkson apologizing and paying towards the out-of-court settlement.
In his recent Sun column, which was published in print and online on Dec. 16, Clarkson wrote of Markle: “I hate her. Not like I hate [Scottish National Party leader] Nicola Sturgeon or [British serial killer] Rose West. I hate her on a cellular level.”
“At night, I’m unable to sleep as I lie there, grinding my teeth and dreaming of the day when she is made to parade naked through the streets of every town in Britain while the crowds chant, ‘Shame!’ and throw lumps of excrement at her,” he continued.
The scenario is a reference to an infamous “Game of Thrones” scene in season 5 in which Cersei (played by Lena Headey) walks naked through King’s Landing while a nun repeating the word “shame” follows her and subjects throw food and objects at her.
Clarkson’s column drew thousands of complaints, including to U.K. newspaper regulatory body IPSO. Among those publicly criticizing the column was the broadcaster’s own daughter Emily, an author and podcast host, who posted on social media: “My views are and have always been clear when it comes to misogyny, bullying and the treatment of women by the media. I want to make it very clear that I stand against everything that my dad wrote about Meghan Markle and I remain standing in support of those that are targeted with online hatred.”
Clarkson followed up with a statement on Twitter three days later, in which he promised to be “more careful in the future” but stopped short of a full apology. “Oh dear. I’ve rather put my foot in it,” Clarkson tweeted. “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.”
Despite the controversy, both Amazon Prime Video and ITV appeared to stand behind Clarkson. The streamer, which has renewed “Clarkson’s Farm” for a third season, declined to comment on the matter while on Tuesday ITV boss Kevin Lygo called the comments “awful” but said Clarkson would continue to host “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?”
Read The Sun’s full statement below:
“In last Saturday’s Sun, Jeremy Clarkson wrote a comment article about the Duchess of Sussex.
It provoked a strong response and led to a large number of complaints to IPSO, the independent press regulator.
In a tweet earlier this week, Jeremy said he had made a ‘clumsy reference to a scene in Game of Thrones,’ which had ‘gone down badly with a great many people’ and he was ‘horrified to have caused so much hurt.’
He also said he will be more careful in future.
Columnists’ opinions are their own, but as a publisher, we realise that with free expression comes responsibility.
We at The Sun regret the publication of this article and we are sincerely sorry.
The article has been removed from our website and archives.
The Sun has a proud history of campaigning, from Help for Heroes to Jabs Army and Who Cares Wins, and over 50 years of working in partnership with charities, our campaigns have helped change Britain for the better.
Working with our readers, The Sun has helped to bring about new legislation on domestic abuse, provided beds in refuges, closed harmful loopholes in the law and empowered survivors of abuse to come forward and seek help.
We will continue to campaign for good causes on behalf of our readers in 2023.”