Media chief debates whether Harry and Meghan headlines were ‘bigoted’

Ian Murray, of the Society of Editors, clashed with Victoria Derbyshire over the media’s coverage of Harry and Meghan (Picture: BBC)

The head of an organisation representing senior journalists has clashed with a BBC presenter during a heated discussion on the UK media’s treatment of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

Ian Murray, the executive director of the Society of Editors, became embroiled in a furious row with Victoria Derbyshire while appearing on BBC News earlier.

Mr Murray has been strongly critical of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s interview with Oprah Winfrey in which Harry claimed the press is ‘bigoted.’

The couple said racism in the UK was a ‘large part’ of the reason why they chose to leave the country last year.

Ms Derbyshire asked Mr Murray about negative headlines that have appeared in the media including one which asked whether Harry would be ‘marrying into gangster royalty.’

Mr Murray interrupted to say ‘I’m not going to defend one headline’ as Ms Derbyshire continued to try to read out other examples.

He then argued the press gives a ‘huge amount of coverage’ to the royal couple and therefore it’s possible to find ‘one or two’ examples which could be used to show the media is bigoted but people should ‘look at the overall picture instead.’

Pressed on whether he viewed the headlines cited as racist, he said: ‘I’m not defending individual things here and there. I am looking at the whole thing.’

He added: ‘When you actually label someone as bigoted because of one example that is disputed and not taking the whole thing into context and look at the way that they have covered it, I’m afraid if you keep on looking you will find that needle in the haystack, you will always find something.’

Prince Harry has long had a difficult relationship with the British press and blames sections of the media for the way his mother Diana and now wife Meghan were treated.

Speaking to Oprah in the interview, Harry recalled a conversation he had at a charity fundraiser in which he was told that the UK is ‘very bigoted’. He said he replied: ‘The UK is not bigoted, the UK press is bigoted, specifically the tabloids.’

He added: ‘But unfortunately if the source of information is inherently corrupt or racist or biased then that filters out to the rest of society.’

Harry and Meghan claimed racism in the UK was a (Credits: AP)
The ‘tell-all’ interview has made headlines around the world (Picture: Getty)

In a statement, Mr Murray said previously: ‘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.

‘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.’

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Harry and Meghan’s Oprah interview: Key moments

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry have spoken to Oprah Winfrey in a bombshell interview about their decision to step back as senior working members of the Royal Family.

Here are the key points from the interview, which UK viewers can watch at 9pm on ITV on Monday, March 8.