ITV has dismissed claims of bullying against Piers Morgan after more than 1,200 freelance TV workers and producers signed a letter making the allegations.
Earlier this week, TV producer Adeel Amini said that if given the choice again, he would turn down the opportunity to work with the presenter. Amini was previously a researcher on Morgan’s Life Stories.
Morgan, who is well-known for his presenter role on Good Morning Britain, retorted that he would ‘rather employ a lobotomised Aardvark’ than work with Amini again.
In another tweet, Morgan went as far as to call the producer an ‘abusive hypocrite’. Amini did not write Morgan’s full name in his tweet, nor tag him.
Shortly after the spat, a large group of industry professionals wrote a letter to ITV CEO Carolyn McCall and Kevin Lygo, managing director of media and entertainment, alleging Morgan’s behaviour amounts to bullying.
‘Like many within our industry, we have been appalled by the online conduct of Piers Morgan in directing targeted abuse towards a freelancer. Morgan, with 7.7 million Twitter followers, has repeatedly targeted and tagged a former staff-member in derogatory posts,’ the group wrote, as per Deadline.
‘As freelancers working within television, we feel a responsibility to speak out against bullying and harassment wherever we see it, including from on-screen personalities who are all too often poorly reprimanded for unacceptable behaviour and abusive conduct.’
The group urged ITV bosses to make a statement, writing that ‘silence in the face of harassment is complicity, which in turn allows abusive behaviour to continue’.
‘In particular, the abuses of on-screen talent are all too often overlooked, at the expense of the dignity, health and safety of the freelancers they target,’ they added.
In its response, ITV dismissed the claim. The channel said it takes allegations of bullying and harassment in the workplace very seriously, but as this matter does not relate to an ITV show it will not be investigating further.
‘Our firm understanding is that in this instance, the tweet in question was not accusing Piers of bullying and harassment whilst working on Life Stories. Having spoken to both parties, there is, therefore, no internal investigation,’ ITV said.
The channel said Piers is a ‘prolific and long-standing user of social media’ who regularly engages in ‘robust, heated exchanges when criticism is levelled against him’. It added that it employs Morgan himself on a freelance basis, and therefore has no control over his output on social media.
Amini has since described the statement as disappointing and avoiding moral responsibility.
‘Power protects power, and silence from others becomes compliance with the culture,’ he wrote on Twitter.
If you’ve been affected by bullying and want to speak to someone in confidence, contact Bullying UK (part of Family Lives) on 0808 800 2222. The helpline service is open 9am–9pm Monday to Friday and 10am–3pm Saturday and Sunday.