How the 'woke wing' of Fleet Street took over the Society of Editors

How the ‘woke wing’ of Fleet Street took over the Society of Editors and threw its boss under the bus for daring to defend the British press against Meghan’s accusations of racism

  • Society of Editors board members hold urgent meeting after executive director Ian Murray quit last night 
  • It follows SoE’s reaction to comments made by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex about racism in the media
  • Statement provoked furious response from board members including Oly Duff, Vic Motune and Eleanor Mills
  • It’s also been criticised by Daily Mirror, Guardian, Financial Times, Evening Standard and HuffPost UK editors 

The august Society of Editors was facing the gravest crisis in its 24-year history this week after left-wing newspaper editors drove the society’s executive director out of his job for standing up against Meghan Markle’s claims that the British press is systematically racist.

Today, MPs cited the resignation of Ian Murray as yet another example of the growing ‘cancel culture’ that also claimed the job of Piers Morgan from Good Morning Britain this week because he said he did not believe a word Meghan said.

One of her most toxic allegations was that she and Prince Harry had had a hard time from some parts of Fleet Street because of racism – an assertion backed up allegedly racists headlines dug up by interviewer Oprah Winfrey’s researchers.

It has since been proven that many the examples she gave were quoted either, selectively, out of context or plain distorted.

The day after the interview Mr Murray issued a robust statement defending all the Society’s members against the accusations and underlining newspapers’ duty to hold the rich and powerful to account.

He said the couple’s claims were ‘not acceptable’ without supporting evidence, insisting that the UK Press was not racist.

But within hours a backlash emerged with over 236 BAME journalists signing a letter condemning the statement.

And then their bosses started weighing in including The Voice’s head of news Vic Motune and i editor Oly Duff who labelled it ‘ludicrous’.

Both men are SoE board members, while a third, Eleanor Mills, called for a diversity plan ‘turbo boost’.

The editors of the Daily Mirror, Guardian, Financial Times, Evening Standard and HuffPost UK also publicly criticised the statement.

The final straw for Mr Murray was when some regional journalists threatened to pull out of the Society’s forthcoming press awards, and ITV presenter Charlene White pulled out as the compere.

It is understood Mr Murray was also subject to intense personal abuse by telephone.

But Conservative MP Sir Desmond Swayne told MailOnline that Mr Murray’s exit highlighted concerns about the growing ‘cancel culture’ in Britain and that the UK was in a situation which is ‘very dangerous for free speech.     


Ian Murray (left), executive director of the Society of Editors, resigned following a row over its reaction to comments made by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex (right, at the Royal Albert Hall in London last March) about racism in the media



Among those on the Society of Editors board who have criticised the statement are (from left) i newspaper editor Oly Duff who labelled it ‘ludicrous’, The Voice head of news Vic Motune, and Eleanor Mills, called for a diversity plan ‘turbo boost’

He pointed out that anyone who went against the ‘orthodoxy’ on the coronavirus lockdowns imposed since March last year had found themselves facing condemnation and demands they stay silent.

The MP said: ‘I have had a concern for some time about freedom of speech and the nature of public discourse.

How Oprah used doctored and out-of-context headlines to smear the British press (while a third were from FOREIGN gossip mags) 

Headlines shown on screen during the Oprah interview to paint British media coverage as hostile and ‘racist’ were mocked up by the production company, often edited to remove context – and a third of them came from foreign media, new analysis has revealed today. 

The two-hour programme, which aired on CBS This Morning, included cuttings of stories intended to confirm the Sussexes’ claim that UK newspapers were guilty of peddling racist abuse against Meghan. 

One segment showed a headline about how ‘Meghan’s seed will taint our Royal Family’ – without noting that the story was actually exposing racist comments made by a model. 

The mocked-up version, which used a similar page design, included the quote but cut the remaining headline away.

Another story that appeared during the tell-all interview referred to a BBC programme that had portrayed Meghan as a ‘trailer trash American’. 

The actual article included an interview with actress Gbemisola Ikunelo, who created the character, explaining she invented it to find ‘humour in the ridiculous’ because it is ‘the opposite of how the Duchess really behaves’. 

And another appeared to use a quote from the story as if it were a headline – without showing the context behind it.

Meanwhile, 11 of more than 30 headlines shown during the interview were from American and Australian publications, according research by the Telegraph. MailOnline has contacted Oprah Winfrey’s network for comment. 

Here is one example of the differences – scroll down to the bottom of the article for more:

WHAT THEY SHOWED: The mocked-up headline purported to be from this website is reduced to a single quote and appeared as a commentator discussed ‘undeniable racist overtones’ in media coverage

IN REAL LIFE: The story – which was on the front of that day’s Mail On Sunday – was a story exposing the suspension of the girlfriend of the UKIP leader for using the racist phrase that appeared in the headline. Producers removed all that context

How it appeared: A Mail On Sunday article – which was also posted onto MailOnline – appeared as a commentator discussed ‘undeniable racist overtones’ in media coverage. 

The reality: It was actually a piece exposing racist remarks about the Duchess by Jo Marney, the then girlfriend of former Ukip leader Henry Bolton. 

The full online headline said Marney had been suspended from the party over the comments.

The front page headline in print for the same story, from January 2018 – ‘Vile Racist Attack on Meghan by Mistress of Ukip Chief’ – was not shown in the programme.   

‘Any number of senior clinicians and academics have sent me advice and information, but asked to be anonymous because of the caustic nature of public discourse, of saying anything that is out of line with the current orthodoxy.

‘I think that is very dangerous for free speech. That is certainly the case with wokery. People have to be so careful with what they say.’

Sir Desmond welcomed that the UK Government was cracking down on ‘cancel culture’ at universities, but warned the action ‘needs to spread well beyond that’.

He suggested people needed to ‘engage with’ and challenge interventions such as the statement from the SoE if they disagreed with them, rather than rushing to close them down.

‘You have a right not to be harassed. People need to be protected from being harassed. But nobody has a right not to be offended,’ he said.

‘Engage in the argument. Don’t try to shut the argument down. If you disagree with something challenge it. Challenge and have the debate in public.

‘We’ve got to the stage where people need their safe space and therefore can’t engage. They want to shut you down rather than challenge what you say.’

A senior tabloid executive said his newspaper would be having serious thoughts about whether to remain involved with the SoE.

He said: ‘The British press has always been a very broad church with massive differences of opinion. But I thought the one thing we could all agree on was that free speech is sacred.

‘But not anymore. Harry and Meghan are trying to shut down their press critics by smearing them as racist. And it seems some misguided left-wing editors agree with them. A racism accusation trumps free speech every time.

‘That is truly frightening. If the Society of Editors won’t even defend free speech, what is the point of it? Apart from some rather pointless awards which are just an ego-trip for editors and journalists anyway.’ 

Newspaper columnist Toby Young, who founded the Free Speech Union group last year, added: ‘Ian Murray is the third person to be cancelled in 48 hours: first Piers Morgan, then Winston Marshall [from Mumford and Sons], now Ian Murray.’

He said those who are ‘worried about losing your livelihood for wrongthink’ should join his organisation.

Other social media users were also outraged, including Liverpool-based PhD student Michael Boyes who tweeted: ‘So Ian Murray of the Society of Editors has lost his job for simply saying the British media isn’t racist in response to Harry and Meghan’s Oprah interview. And yet, cancel culture doesn’t exist…’ 

And novelist Tim Lott added last night: ‘Today alone: Ian Murray from Society of Editors, Winston Marshall from Mumford and Sons and Piers Morgan, all cancelled. Not that cancel culture exists of course. We are getting ourselves into a terrible state. It’s turning genuinely dark.’ 

The statement from Mr Murray issued on Monday said that the UK media ‘has a proud record of calling out racism’, adding: ‘The UK media has never shied away from holding a spotlight up to those in positions of power, celebrity or influence. If sometimes the questions asked are awkward and embarrassing, then so be it, but the press is most certainly not racist. ‘

Following a backlash, a clarification was then released on Wednesday by the organisation which said: ‘The Society of Editors has a proud history of campaigning for freedom of speech and the vital work that journalists do in a democracy to hold power to account. 

‘Our statement on Meghan and Harry was made in that spirit but did not reflect what we all know: that there is a lot of work to be done in the media to improve diversity and inclusion. 

‘We will reflect on the reaction our statement prompted and work towards being part of the solution.’ 

Then, announcing his resignation last night, Mr Murray said: ‘Since the statement was issued the SoE has been heavily criticised.

‘While I do not agree that the Society’s statement was in any way intended to defend racism, I accept it could have been much clearer in its condemnation of bigotry and has clearly caused upset.

‘As executive director I lead the Society and as such must take the blame and so I have decided it is best for the board and membership that I step aside so that the organisation can start to rebuild its reputation.’

Mr Murray added that the original statement from the SoE, which is an umbrella group for almost 400 newspapers and other news outlets, was ‘not intended to gloss over the fact the media industry in the UK does have work to do on inclusivity and diversity’.

Today, there was still significant anger about the initial statement from one board member, Mr Motune, who said following Mr Murray’s resignation: ‘My deep disappointment at his comments denying the fact that sections of the UK Press are racist strongly remains.’

He claimed that he and other members of the board were not consulted about the statement before it was issued, and he ‘would not have accepted or supported’ it, adding: ‘The comments do not represent what I know – the UK media fails to accurately reflect the lives and aspirations of all BAME persons in Britain.’

He continued: ‘My big fear now is that the initiatives to address diversity which the board has been working on for the past year, and which I joined the Society of Editors to support, have been dealt a serious blow. 

‘These initiatives involved plans to reach out to BAME journalists to help drive forward efforts to tackle racism in the media. 

‘Many of these same journalists rightly signed a letter refuting claims made in the statement – and we now need to urgently rebuild trust with this group.’




Mr Motune added that a ‘special board meeting’ was being held today and he would be speaking to fellow board members despite being on ‘compassionate leave of absence’ from work at The Voice, which describes itself as Britain’s only black national newspaper.

What has the Society of Editors said this week? 

1) FIRST STATEMENT – ISSUED ON MONDAY

The UK media is not bigoted and will not be swayed from its vital role holding the rich and powerful to account following the attack on the press by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, the Society of Editors has commented.

The Duke and Duchess attacked the UK media in an interview with American chat show host Oprah Winfrey which was aired in the United States last night (Sunday) and will be shown in the UK this evening. In further previously unseen excerpts from the interview shown on US breakfast TV this morning Prince Harry says the couple had to leave Britain in part due to racism and felt sections of the British media were to blame.

Ian Murray, executive director of the Society of Editors, said it was untrue that sections of the UK press were bigoted.

‘It is not acceptable for the Duke and Duchess to make such claims without providing any supporting evidence. If it is simply the case the Sussexes feel that the press by questioning their actions and commenting on their roles when working as Royals funded by the taxpayer were being racist then they are mistaken,’ commented Murray.

‘In the case of Meghan Markle and her engagement and marriage to Prince Harry there was universal supporting coverage in the UK media which reflected the warmth shown to the couple by the British people. But that warmth could not and should not mean the press should be expected to refuse to report, investigate and comment on the couple’s lifestyle and actions.

‘It is a pity the couple did not mention in their interview the huge support the UK media has shown to the charitable works carried out by the Duke and Duchess. The UK press also played a large role in ensuring the prince’s service in Afghanistan went ahead, agreeing to an embargo on reporting his deployment to enable him to carry out his Army role in the Middle East.

‘The UK media has a proud record of calling out racism and also being at the forefront of campaigns to support mental health awareness, another of the issues raised by the couple.

‘It is also unreasonable for the Duke and Duchess to conflate the legitimate coverage provided by the edited and regulated UK media with the wild west of social media.

‘It is strange indeed, that the couple have attacked the UK media previously for alleged intrusion into their private lives yet have opened up on several occasions to media in the US, the latest event being yesterday’s interview with Oprah Winfrey which will play to a world-wide audience.

‘The UK media has never shied away from holding a spotlight up to those in positions of power, celebrity or influence. If sometimes the questions asked are awkward and embarrassing, then so be it, but the press is most certainly not racist. ‘

2) STATEMENT OF CLARIFICATION – ISSUED ON WEDNESDAY MORNING

The board of the Society of Editors has released this statement of clarification following the statement issued on Monday regarding the Duke of Sussex’s comments on the UK media.

‘The Society of Editors has a proud history of campaigning for freedom of speech and the vital work that journalists do in a democracy to hold power to account. Our statement on Meghan and Harry was made in that spirit but did not reflect what we all know: that there is a lot of work to be done in the media to improve diversity and inclusion. We will reflect on the reaction our statement prompted and work towards being part of the solution.’

3) STATEMENT – ISSUED ON WEDNESDAY EVENING

The executive director of the Society of Editors has resigned following a row over its reaction to comments made by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex about racism in the media.

Ian Murray said he would step down from his role so the organisation can ‘rebuild its reputation’.

A strongly-worded statement issued by the SoE following Harry and Meghan’s interview with Oprah Winfrey said it was ‘not acceptable’ for the couple to make claims of racism in the press ‘without supporting evidence’, adding that the press in the UK was not racist.

‘Since the statement was issued the SoE has been heavily criticised,’ Mr Murray said.

‘While I do not agree that the Society’s statement was in any way intended to defend racism, I accept it could have been much clearer in its condemnation of bigotry and has clearly caused upset.

‘As executive director I lead the Society and as such must take the blame and so I have decided it is best for the board and membership that I step aside so that the organisation can start to rebuild its reputation.’

He added that the original statement was ‘not intended to gloss over the fact the media industry in the UK does have work to do on inclusivity and diversity’.

Alison Gow, President of the SoE said: ‘I would like to thank Ian for his tireless work on behalf of the Society; he has led campaigns for journalists’ rights and freedoms and worked hard behind the scenes when it appeared legislation might threaten those.

‘The Society is committed to representing all journalists and upholding Journalism; I am clear on what our mission must be, and we will strive as an organisation to listen and hear everyone’s views, and be strong advocates and allies for all those we represent’.

He said areas of concern were ‘actioning planned initiatives, rebuilding the trust of BAME members and driving the much needed change in the industry’.

Mr Duff, who is also on the SoE board, tweeted yesterday: ‘It was ludicrous for SoE to issue blanket defence of all media coverage. No wonder so many editors, journalists (and board members- given no knowledge of statement pre-publication) furious.

‘That means newsrooms and coverage that reflect the communities we live in – outreach, recruitment, career development, appointment to leadership positions. Yes media groups are examining diversity within their ranks, some are much further ahead than others. Dismay especially evident among next gen editors.’ 

Mr Duff also wrote in an editorial that the UK media must reflect on diversity and still has ‘much more to do’.

He added: ‘The Sussexes’ take on the UK press does not reflect the breadth of the industry. Yet newspaper archives do contain plenty of examples of discriminatory news coverage – whether decades ago or much more recently – and our profession is not renowned for its self-awareness.’

Mr Duff was unavailable for comment today when contacted by MailOnline. 

And Eleanor Mills, former editorial director of the Sunday Times who is also on the board, also tweeted yesterday: ‘Lots of board very angry – calling for emergency meeting and turbo boost to diversity plan.’

Dr Paul Lashmar, head of the department of journalism at City University in London, told MailOnline today: ‘I’m very careful about the war on woke, because it’s a way of putting down people who don’t agree with you.

‘You have a responsibility to examine, journalism is about finding out by listening to people of different views and finding a path to some notion of the truth.

‘When you’re the head of a body like the Society of Editors, of course you’ve got to show that you’re in touch with the changes and you can listen to criticism.’

He added: ‘Is freedom of expression under threat? No more than it has been. There are forces that control freedom of expression in some ways, but he (Mr Murray) wasn’t expressing that as an individual person.

‘He was the representative of an important media organisation and the fact is he got it wrong and perhaps resignation leaves it open for someone who is more in tune with the modern, younger world.’

Mr Lashmar continued: ‘I think that the issue that’s come up here is the Society of Editors has not got over the Fleet Street days. It needs to move forward. I think that the big problem with journalism has been its lack of diversity.

‘If you look at the figures, it’s still white middle class. That is beginning to change, as a journalism department at City, we’re seeing a much, more varied group of people coming through that will go into journalism.

‘Diversity brings a diversity of views. I think Ian Murray’s comments were tone deaf, they’re not in touch with the world as it is now, and particularly for young people.

‘And I think what Ian Murray’s resignation allows for is perhaps someone younger who is more in touch with what’s happening across journalism and diversity of views and being more sensitive to how people of diversity feel about the way things are framed.’

Paul Wiltshire, a journalism course leader at the University of Gloucestershire, said that Mr Murray’s ‘car crash’ interview with the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire yesterday did not help matters.

He told MailOnline: ‘Ian’s resignation was inevitable after the tone-deaf nature of his original statement and the car crash interviews which followed.

‘The Society does a fantastic job in fighting for press freedom – now it needs to do an equally fantastic job in challenging bigotry and racism in the media. This is a time for humility and for listening – and then for real action.’

Jess Brammar, editor-in-chief of HuffPost UK, also told MailOnline today: ‘The Society of Editors claimed to speak for the UK journalism industry.

‘I think what’s crucial to remember is that our industry includes people who are from minorities that have not been treated well by aspects of the Press.

‘This was not just about journalists who could see that the Society of Editors’ statement was factually incorrect calling that out, it was also about supporting our colleagues within our own industry who are impacted by that bigotry. 

‘We can’t pretend to be surprised about the lack of diversity in our newsrooms when we aren’t addressing this.’

Guardian News and Media editor-in-chief Katherin Viner said on Tuesday: ‘Every institution in the United Kingdom is currently examining its own position on vital issues of race and the treatment of people of colour.

‘As I have said before, the media must do the same. It must be much more representative and more self-aware.’ 

And Financial Times editor Roula Khalaf added: ‘There is work to be done across all sectors in the UK to call out and challenge racism.

‘The media has a critical role to play, and editors must ensure that our newsrooms and coverage reflect the societies we live in.’ 

Evening Standard editor Emily Sheffield added that her newspaper ‘believes that the nature of the serious allegations made by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex require us as an industry to take time to review and investigate attitudes to race, diversity and representation.’

She added: ‘We were not consulted about The Society of Editors’ statement and it did not reflect our views on these vital issues. 

The front pages of UK national newspapers on Tuesday, reacting to the interview with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex

‘We are immensely proud of the progress that we have made in this area in recent years and continue to work hard to ensure that we challenge racism and reflect all of our readers in the journalism that we produce.

Award-winning editor who campaigned for press freedom and diversity – and warned censorship was ‘in the hands of those who would shackle the press and curtail freedom of expression’

Ian Murray is an award-winning journalist with almost 40-years’ experience in newsrooms and working with the British media.

The married father-of-two was appointed to the position of Executive Director of the Society of Editors in October 2017. 

He was the president of the Society of Editors for 2013-2014 and has been a member of the Society since its formation in 1999. 

In his role, he campaigned vociferously for press and media freedom in the United Kingdom, as well as freedom of expression, diversity in the media, and the public’s right to know.   

In 2019, he spoke out against state control of the media, ‘draconian regulations’ and the threat to ‘introduce state regulation of the press by the back door.’ 

He warned that censorship was, ‘in the hands of those who would shackle the press and curtail freedom of expression would be disastrous for our free society.’

He also spoke out against ‘politicians who wish to silence some debates who would use this as a weapon if permitted,’ adding, ‘We are in real danger of walking into an Orwellian nightmare where the state decides who has the right to have an opinion if we are not truly careful.’

He was speaking out about following the publication of the online Harms Bill by then-Digital, Culture, Media and Sports Secretary of State Jeremy Wright.  

Mr Murray said: ‘Few can deny the need for measures to prevent child abuse, the promotion of terrorism, encouragement to self harm and other serious online harms.

‘The creation of new regulations to protect the vulnerable in society as outlined by the Secretary of State should be and will be broadly welcomed by anyone who feels the digital sphere has become too lawless.

‘But the devil is always in the detail and where the white paper moves into areas concerning the spread of misinformation – so called fake news – we should all be concerned.

‘Who will decide what is fake news? This form of censorship in the hands of those who would shackle the press and curtail freedom of expression would be disastrous for our free society. There is no use pretending there are not politicians who wish to silence some debates who would use this as a weapon if permitted.’

Mr Murray, who began his journalist career in 1979 aged 19, is the former Editor of the Southern Daily Echo and the Editor in Chief of Newsquest’s Hampshire titles. 

He has worked for most of his career in regional and local newspapers in the UK, having started on weekly titles in the Midlands, rising to edit weekly and daily papers in the south of England.

He is currently a member of the Editors’ Advisory Committee to the Press Complaints Commission. 

He is also vice chair of the UK’s Defence and Security Media Advisory Committee, and a Freeman of the Worshipful Company of Stationers and Newspaper Makers.  In 2015 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Media by Southampton Solent University.

Mr Murray and his wife Jill have two grown-up daughters. 

After completing journalist training at Sheffield College, he went on to become editor of the Kidderminster Shuttle and Times when at the age of 24 he was the youngest editor in England. 

He joined the newsdesk of the Daily Echo in Bournemouth in 1988, rising through the roles of News Editor and Deputy Editor to become Managing Editor of the paper in 1996. 

In 2019, Mr Murray added that the public would certainly welcome tough measures to clamp down on genuine harms, but cautioned against those issues being used as a Trojan horse to introduce state regulation of the press by the back door.

‘Free societies do not give up their liberties by choice unless they believe it is in the common good. The priority for politicians should always be to ensure credible reasons for change are not used as smoke screens to usher in sweeping restraints where the consequences are far wider than the public believed.

‘The Society will be lobbying to ensure the case for freedom of expression and a free press remain paramount.’

‘We agree with the clarification issued by the Society of Editors that we should all be part of the solution.’

Alison Gow, president of the Society of Editors, said: ‘I would like to thank Ian for his tireless work on behalf of the Society; he has led campaigns for journalists’ rights and freedoms and worked hard behind the scenes when it appeared legislation might threaten those.

‘The society is committed to representing all journalists and upholding Journalism; I am clear on what our mission must be, and we will strive as an organisation to listen and hear everyone’s views, and be strong advocates and allies for all those we represent.’ 

Yesterday, announcing she would not host this year’s Press Awards, ITV News presenter Ms White said in a letter to the SoE: ‘Following your recent comments regarding race and the UK press, I have decided to no longer make myself available to present the Society Of Editors’ British Press Awards this month.

‘A few years ago, your organisation approached me to become a judge for its awards and to work alongside you because at that time it was hugely lacking in terms of it being a fair reflection of the UK population. In other words, the nominations and winners list involved very few non-white journalists.

‘This is not an unusual scenario unfortunately. Over the years several organisations have been held to account for eradicating and ignoring the work of ethnic minorities professionals – and women. So, you told me you wanted that to change. In fact, we spoke at length about it.

‘But here’s the thing. I only work with organisations who practise what they preach. My time is precious, so I’d rather not waste it. 

‘Since the Black Lives Matter movement really took hold in the UK last year, every single institution in this country has had to finally look at its failings and its position in terms of how they treat ethnic minorities both inside and outside of its walls. But for some unknown reason, you feel as though the UK press is exempt in that discussion.’

Ms White described herself as ‘a black woman who has consistently stood up for what she believes in, irrespective of the impact it would have on my career’.

She added: ‘So perhaps it’s best for you to look elsewhere for a host for your awards this year. Perhaps someone whose views align with yours: that the UK press is the one institution in the entire country who has a perfect record on race.’

The first black woman to present the ITV News At Ten, White, 40, joined ITN in 2008 after a number of senior positions at the BBC. She became a regular presenter on ITV daytime show Loose Women following the departure of Andrea McLean earlier this year. 

Among the organisations withdrawing their entries to the Press Awards since yesterday have been the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, Yorkshire Post and HuffPost.

And Daily Mirror editor Alison Phillips said today: ‘Following the events of this week and the response of the Society of Editor’s to the Meghan and Harry interview with Oprah Winfrey, the Mirror no longer feels able to participate in the Driving Diversity category of this year’s Society of Editors awards.

‘The Mirror is taking positive steps forward on improving diversity in our newsroom but we still have much more to do. We will be talking to the Society about what actions it will be taking to improve diversity across the industry.’

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism was nominated in the Innovation of the Year while its journalist Alexandra Heal was in the running for Young Journalist of the Year.

But it withdrew its shortlisted entries following what it labelled in a statement yesterday as a ‘lack of awareness and understanding of deep-rooted and persistent problems’.

The Bureau added that refusing to acknowledge the industry’s issues ‘bars the way for much-needed changes – in attitude and action – to support more diversity and wider representation that will improve our industry and our news’.

It also said: ‘We see it as our responsibility as journalists and editors to serve all citizens across the country and help create a media industry that is representative of the diversity of people and stories within our society.’

And HuffPost North of England correspondent Aasma Day, who was nominated in the Reporting Diversity category, tweeted: ‘A blanket claim on behalf of the industry saying the UK media is not bigoted does not sit right with me when racism and bigotry exists in every element of society. It would be wrong of me to carry on with this awards process when [the SoE] is denying there even is a problem.

‘What’s the point of having a Reporting Diversity award when this statement shows the society representing the industry I work in is burying its head and refusing to admit these issues even exist? Tackling diversity has to start ‘at home’ and this statement clearly refutes this.’

Mr Murray’s exit follows the departure of Piers Morgan from ITV show Good Morning Britain amid an outcry over his comments about Meghan. Mr Morgan quit on Tuesday, a day after he said ‘I don’t believe a word she says’ in reference to Meghan’s interview.

The Duchess told Winfrey that she suffered so much during her time as a working member of the Royal Family that she had suicidal thoughts, and claimed she had not received support from palace staff. Media watchdog Ofcom said it had received more than 41,000 complaints about Mr Morgan’s comments.

How Oprah used doctored and out-of-context headlines to smear the British press (while a third were from FOREIGN gossip mags)

By RORY TINGLE FOR MAILONLINE

Headlines shown on screen during the Oprah interview to paint British media coverage as hostile and ‘racist’ were mocked up by the production company, often edited to remove context – and a third of them came from foreign media, new analysis has revealed today. 

The two-hour programme, which aired on CBS This Morning, included cuttings of stories intended to confirm the Sussexes’ claim that UK newspapers were guilty of peddling racist abuse against Meghan. 

One segment showed a headline about how ‘Meghan’s seed will taint our Royal Family’ – without noting that the story was actually exposing racist comments made by a model. 

The mocked-up version, which used a similar page design, included the quote but cut the remaining headline away.

Another story that appeared during the tell-all interview referred to a BBC programme that had portrayed Meghan as a ‘trailer trash American’. 

The actual article included an interview with actress Gbemisola Ikunelo, who created the character, explaining she invented it to find ‘humour in the ridiculous’ because it is ‘the opposite of how the Duchess really behaves’. 

And another appeared to use a quote from the story as if it were a headline – without showing the context behind it.

Meanwhile, 11 of more than 30 headlines shown during the interview were from American and Australian publications, according research by the Telegraph. MailOnline has contacted Oprah Winfrey’s network for comment.

The research comes as Society of Editors chief Ian Murray tonight resigned as executive director after the body came under fire for defending the UK press against accusations of racism. 

WHAT THEY SHOWED: The headline read ‘BBC comedy portrays Meghan Markle as ”trailer trash” American who threatens to knife Kate Middleton’. But the character was actually meant to be the opposite of what Meghan was really like  

IN REAL LIFE: The article as it appeared on the Telegraph’s website – with Defence spelled the English way, not how the Americans mocked it up – makes it clear that the comedienne portraying Meghan as ‘trailer trash’ was doing so as it was ‘finding humour’ in a ‘ridiculous’ idea

How it appeared: A Telegraph article appeared in the same segment about hostile newspaper coverage, shortly after the commentator described the reporting as ‘standing apart from what we’ve seen for any other royal’. 

The reality: The headline read ‘BBC comedy portrays Meghan Markle as ”trailer trash” American who threatens to knife Kate Middleton’.

But the story, from June 2019, included quotes from comedian Gbemisola Ikunelo, who voiced the character and said she conceived it as the opposite of Meghan to ‘find humour in the ridiculous’.

‘Anybody who has seen anything of Meghan Markle in public will know that she seems incredibly agreeable and friendly, always smiling,’ she said.

WHAT THEY SHOWED: The mocked-up headline purported to be from this website is reduced to a single quote and appeared as a commentator discussed ‘undeniable racist overtones’ in media coverage

IN REAL LIFE: The story – which was on the front of that day’s Mail On Sunday – was a story exposing the suspension of the girlfriend of the UKIP leader for using the racist phrase that appeared in the headline. Producers removed all that context

How it appeared: A Mail On Sunday article – which was also posted onto MailOnline – appeared as a commentator discussed ‘undeniable racist overtones’ in media coverage. 

The reality: It was actually a piece exposing racist remarks about the Duchess by Jo Marney, the then girlfriend of former Ukip leader Henry Bolton. 

The full online headline said Marney had been suspended from the party over the comments.

The front page headline in print for the same story, from January 2018 – ‘Vile Racist Attack on Meghan by Mistress of Ukip Chief’ – was not shown in the programme. 

WHAT THEY SHOWED: Oprah’s team reduced this Telegraph article to a headline suggesting the Duchess ‘doesn’t speak our language’. As they mocked up the Telegraph’s website, they spelled 

IN REAL LIFE: The piece – an opinion column – has the subdeck that explains it is critiquing the Duchess’s ‘earnest gushing’ which the writer finds to be ‘like nails down a blackboard’

How it appeared: Another Telegraph story flashed up as Oprah suggested Meghan had been the victim of media attacks soon after joining the Royal Family, and shortly after a commentator described the ‘racial overtones’ of media coverage.   

The reality: The article, by the sketch writer Michael Deacon, appeared two months ago – after the couple had left the UK.

It claimed Meghan ‘speaks Californian … a hippie version of corporate management-speak’, before listing a series of gushing ‘Woke’ phrases. 

The story was sub-headed: ‘No doubt the Duchess means well. But to jaded British ears, her earnest gushing is like nails down a blackboard.’  

WHAT THEY SHOWED: The interview flashed up a Guardian headline apparently referring neutrally to Danny Baker talking about comparing Archie to ‘a chimp’

IN REAL LIFE? No such headline is immediately available on the Guardian’s website. This, from the aftermath of Baker’s sacking, is their story about him talking about his Tweet and apologising for it

The BBC Radio 5 Live host sparked outrage after he uploaded this image of a couple clinging on to a monkey wearing a suit with the caption: ‘Royal baby leaves hospital’

How it appeared: Following comments about ‘racist abuse’ Meghan allegedly suffered from the press was a headline in the Guardian referring to a notorious tweet by BBC radio presenter Danny Baker. 

The reality: Baker’s 2019 tweet showing a couple with a monkey tagged ‘Royal baby leaves hospital’ prompted an outcry and led to him being sacked by the BBC. 

Many viewed the tweet as racist. However, after the story was initially published, the 61-year-old broadcaster denied this and called it a ‘stupid unthinking gag’ about class. 

Baker said that he was unaware of who the mother of the baby even was: ‘I didn’t know which of our royal princesses had given birth.

‘My go-to photo when any posh people have a baby is this absurd chimpanzee in a top hat leaving the hospital. Had it not been Meghan – perfectly good joke. I was trying to make a point about class and it’s just preposterous.’ 

Baker’s response to the allegation of racism was not mentioned in the Oprah broadcast. 

WHAT THEY SHOWED: The producers created what appeared to be a grab from this website with a line about ‘rich and exotic DNA’ written in a large typeface where the headline would normally be

IN REAL LIFE: The text the show featured appeared in a column by the Prime Minister’s sister Rachel Johnson. This is how it actually appeared online. The line of text that the show made appear to be the headline was in fact taken from the middle of paragraph three of the 11-paragraph piece

How it appeared: A 2016 column by Boris Johnson’s sister, Rachel was shown as a single sentence, ‘Rich and exotic DNA, Miss Markle’s mother is a dread-locked African-American lady from the wrong side of the tracks…’ It came in a segment describing the ‘racist abuse’ Meghan allegedly received. 

The reality: The actual comment piece, which appeared in the Mail On Sunday and was also posted on MailOnline, described Meghan as genetically ‘blessed’. 

It said she would help the Windsors ‘thicken their watery, thin blue blood and Spencer pale skin and ginger hair with some rich and exotic DNA’, before lauding the duchess for her acting success and social conscience. 

Following criticism at the time, Rachel Johnson explained that the article ‘celebrated the fact that she was mixed race’ – although she admitted she regretted the phrasing. 

She told the Express: ‘I meant that in marvellous contrast to the gingery white blood of his own blood family on his maternal side. But it didn’t go down well and I hereby apologise Harry.’ 

The mocked up version of The Sun’s ‘Meghan made Kate cry’ headline which appeared during the Oprah Winfrey interview

The real version of the Sun’s headline. Both are almost the same, with pictures, and other text taken out

How it appeared: ‘Meg Made Kate Cry’ on top of a header for The Sun newspaper.

The reality: This was the same, albeit a mocked up version with the rest of the stories and furniture removed – most likely for legal purposes.  The main story text and sub-headline have also been removed. 

The sub-head sheds more context on the alleged incident, adding that the row was due to the ‘bride’s strict demands’ over Princess Charlotte’s dress for her wedding. 

The Duchess of Sussex addressed the story – which was widely reported in February 2019 – during her interview with Oprah. The story claimed that in the lead-up to the wedding, Meghan had made Kate Middleton cry during a row over a dress for Princess Charlotte. In her Oprah interview, Meghan accepted there had been a row, but said Kate was the one to make her cry, and insisted the Duchess of Cambridge had apologised to her after.

A version of the Express’ story about Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle’s rift which appeared during the Oprah interview

The real version that was posted on the Express’ website – with the sub head underneath

How it appeared: Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle rift: Why did Kate cry during Royal Wedding rehearsal?

The reality: The Oprah interview version does appear identical to the real version. However, it does crop above the sub-head, which gives more context over the row in 2018.

The subhead mentions the reported ‘row’ between the pair – which Meghan confirmed had happened. However she claimed Kate had made her cry, and apologised for it, in her interview with Oprah.

The mocked up version of Star magazine’s ‘Meghan is ruining my life’ headline which appeared during the Oprah Winfrey interview

The real version of the ‘Meghan is ruining my life’ published in Star magazine – an American publication

How it appeared: Meghan is ruining my life!

The reality: Again, the headline is exactly the same, but is clearly a composed image, rather than the real version, which appeared in Star magazine on February 11, 2019.

The article, which featured a picture of the Duchess of Cambridge rubbing her eye claimed it had the ‘inside’ into the ‘nastiest fight after Harry’s wife makes her daughter Charlotte cry’.

On top of this, Star Magazine is actually an American publication – and this magazine was published in the US and not in the UK.

The interview showed a series of other cuttings from newspaper and magazine stories as the commentator described ‘a daily onslaught of vitriol and condemnation from the UK press

However, a third of the headlines shown were also taken from foreign media, according to the Telegraph’s analysis

How it appeared: The interview showed a series of other cuttings from newspaper and magazine stories as the commentator described ‘a daily onslaught of vitriol and condemnation from the UK press.’ 

The reality: A third of the headlines shown were also taken from foreign media, according to the Telegraph’s analysis.

One said ‘Harry trapped in marriage from hell!’ – but that was taken from the American tabloid the National Enquirer.

Another National Enquirer headline was also used which said ‘Monster Meghan exposed!’

In total 11 of more than 30 headlines shown during the interview were from American and Australian tabloids, according to the Daily Telegraph.

Of the 23 headlines from British news outlets which featured, around 14 were not published in print and only appeared online.

Other foreign publications used included Us Weekly, a celebrity magazine based in New York, and the Australia-based New Idea magazine.

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