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In a statement to the BBC following The Sun’s retraction of and apology for the column — in which Clarkson expressed hate for the Duchess of Sussex on a “cellular level” — a spokesperson for the couple called the outlet’s response disingenuous.
“The fact that the Sun has not contacted The Duchess of Sussex to apologize shows their intent,” they told the magazine. “This is nothing more than a PR stunt.”
The statement went on to express that while some kind of response was necessary for “the public,” a “shift” in how the U.K. outlet covers the couple would be a “true apology.”
“While the public absolutely deserves the publication’s regrets for their dangerous comments, we wouldn’t be in this situation if The Sun did not continue to profit off of and exploit hate, violence and misogyny,” the statement added. “A true apology would be a shift in their coverage and ethical standards for all. Unfortunately, we’re not holding our breath.”
On Friday, The Sun issued an apology for running a column by the British TV personality about Markle that has been condemned for being “deeply misogynistic.”
The British tabloid ran Clarkson’s article on Dec. 16, the day after the release of the second half of episodes for Markle and Prince Harry’s widely watched Netflix docuseries Harry & Meghan, which sees the couple revealing new behind-the-scenes information about how they were treated by both the U.K. press and royal family, ultimately leading to their separation from royal life.
The former Top Gear host wrote in his column that Prince Harry was being “controlled” by Markle and that he was “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.”
On Friday, the newspaper apologized for running the column and removed the article from its website and archives, noting in a post to its website that the column had “provoked a strong response and led to a large number of complaints to IPSO, the independent press regulator.”
The Hollywood Reporter reported it had led to 6,000 complaints three days after publication.
“Columnists’ opinions are their own, but as a publisher we realize that with free expression comes responsibility. We at The Sun regret the publication of this article and we are sincerely sorry,” read the statement, in part.
The column — which targets Markle in the way she and Prince Harry commonly describe when discussing the British tabloids in Harry & Meghan — received swift backlash, including from Clarkson’s daughter, podcast host Emily Clarkson, who said, “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.”
First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon, who was also named in the column as someone Clarkson “hates” on a “cellular level,” called the piece “deeply misogynist.” She told The Times, “I think what he said about Meghan Markle was deeply misogynist and just downright awful and horrible.”
In a letter signed by more than 60 MPs and addressed to The Sun’s editor Victoria Newton, Caroline Nokes, a Conservative party member and chair of Parliament’s Women and Equalities Committee, called the column’s retraction “welcomed” and declared an apology to Markle be issued “immediately.”
“This sort of language has no place in our country and it is unacceptable that it was allowed to be published in a mainstream newspaper,” the letter reads. “Ms. Markle has faced multiple credible threats to her life requiring the intervention of The Metropolitan Police. Hateful articles like the one written by Mr. Clarkson do not exist in a vacuum and directly contribute to this unacceptable climate of hatred and violence.”
On Monday, Clarkson addressed the response but did not apologize. “Oh dear. I’ve rather put my foot in it. 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,” he wrote on Twitter of the reference to the memorable Cersei (Lena Headey) moment in Game of Thrones.
Clarkson, who in 2015 was fired as host of the BBC’s motoring show after punching a producer, is the star of Amazon Prime Video series The Grand Tour and Clarkson’s Farm, and also hosts Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? for ITV. The latter said there are no plans to take action following the column, while Amazon has yet to comment about the forthcoming season.
This story originally posted Dec. 24 at 4:26 p.m. and has been updated with the statement from the Sussexes spokesperson.
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