Controversial UK TV personality Piers Morgan has been accused of bullying by nearly 1200 people working in the TV industry.
In an open letter sent to the Good Morning Britain presenter’s bosses, a group of anonymous television professionals said they were “appalled” by Morgan’s “targeted abuse” towards a former colleague.
It comes after Morgan targeted a former TV researcher, Adeel Amini, on Twitter last week, writing that he would “rather employ a lobotomised Aardvark” than work with Amini again.
“You spent precisely two months working on Life Stories in 2010 & judging by your CV that was the pinnacle of your TV career,” he said in response to Amini’s initial tweet saying he would not wish to work with Morgan again after his experience on Piers Morgan’s Life Stories.
Amini, now a producer and campaigner for freelancer rights, having co-founded mental health support body TV Mindset, did not tag or name Morgan in full in his original tweet.
In response to the heated exchange, a group of industry professionals and members to TV Mindset wrote to Morgan’s Good Morning Britain bosses, ITV CEO Carolyn McCall and Kevin Lygo, managing director of media and entertainment, expressing their concerns.
“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 letter said.
“We believe silence in the face of harassment is complicity, which in turn allows abusive behaviour to continue behind the scenes at every level of program making. 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.”
The letter was organised by an anonymous group of freelancers who said they had gathered support from 1188 unnamed industry professionals, including freelancers, commissioners, executive producers, CEOs and heads of department.
Morgan tweeted that the letter was “beyond parody” and that he was the victim himself.
Responding to the petition, McCall and Lygo said there would be no internal investigation into his conduct, given the matter did not relate to an ITV show.
The reply stated: “ITV takes any allegations of bullying and harassment in the workplace very seriously indeed, and we are clear there is absolutely no place for it in ITV.
“We have an independent whistleblowing helpline which we communicate through our induction process and which we monitor on an ongoing basis, in addition to our internal grievance procedures channels, which are open to both permanent members of staff and freelancers.
“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.”
It continued: “In terms of the separate issue of social media exchanges, we understand some producers wish to express their views on their personal platforms, and we also think it is widely understood that Piers is a prolific and longstanding user of social media where he is well known for engaging in robust, heated exchanges, when criticism is levelled against him.
“However, Twitter accounts and the decision to comment on each other are their personal choices. Piers is a freelance presenter and we do not control his output on social media, or the other media platforms he writes for.
“To reiterate, we are clear there is no room for bullying at ITV and it is not tolerated. We are supportive and engaged members of Coalition for Change, and we will continue to work productively with colleagues across the industry.”