Piers Morgan: The controversial British TV personality in profile

Tabloid editor turned celebrity interviewer back with new show, new channel and a new Donald Trump spat

‘I'm a more honest man than you’: Trump storms out of Piers Morgan interview

British TV personality Piers Morgan is back with a new show and is already hard at work hyping its opening episode, promising “the most explosive interview of the year”.

The conservative broadcaster will be fronting Piers Morgan Uncensored on Fox Nation in the US and on Rupert Murdoch’s new venture TalkTV in the UK, which makes its debut on Monday 25 April and carries his interview with the one and only Donald Trump.

An edited promo for their encounter appears to show the 45th president storming out when Mr Morgan questions him about his insistence that the 2020 election was “stolen” as part of a nationwide Democratic conspiracy to carry out voter fraud and fix the race for the White House in favour of Joe Biden.

Despite innumerable lawsuits by Mr Trump and his cheerleaders, that allegation, often branded “the Big Lie”, has never been proven, but its spread inspired the “Stop the Steal” rally in Washington, DC, on 6 January 2021, which was addressed by the outgoing president and immediately followed by the attempted insurrection at the US Capitol Building in which five people died.

But, in an interesting twist, Mr Trump has denied that he walked out when asked about his beliefs, issuing a statement on Thursday that said: “Piers Morgan, like the rest of the fake news media, attempted to unlawfully and deceptively edit his long and tedious interview.”

The press release was accompanied by an audio clip that appeared to show the pair talking amicably about golf after the exchange about the election had taken place.

The duo first met during the 2008 series of Mr Trump’s Celebrity Apprentice, which Mr Morgan won by beating an oddball team of rivals including Kiss frontman Gene Simmons, Sopranos actor Vincent “Big Puss” Pastore, Usual Suspect Stephen Baldwin and ex-boxer Lennox Lewis to the title.

Mr Morgan subsequently interviewed the luxury property tycoon several times during his presidency, cutting a fawning presence as he gifted him on one occasion with an Arsenal shirt (the journalist never missing an opportunity to proclaim his love for the north London football club) and on another with a replica Homburg in the style worn by Sir Winston Churchill during the Second World War.

Mr Trump, visibly disappointed that it was not in fact Sir Winston’s real hat, only very reluctantly put it on for a matter of seconds, clearly concerned it might ruffle his signature blonde mane and make him look ridiculous. He was right to be suspicious.

But the men fell out during the early days of the coronavirus pandemic in April 2020 when Mr Morgan criticised the president for not doing more to address the outbreak in an interview with CNN, for which he was unceremoniously unfollowed on Twitter by the US commander-in-chief, a devastating blow to his always-brittle ego, regularly under siege on the same platform by the tireless Gary Lineker.

Piers Morgan was born Piers Stefan O’Meara on 30 March 1965 in Surrey, the son of an Irish dentist who passed away when his boy was just 11 months old. His mother, Gabrielle, subsequently remarried Welsh pub landlord and meat distributor, Glynne Pughe-Morgan, whose surname he took.

He was educated at the independent Cumnor House preparatory school until he was 13, then Chailey School, followed by sixth form at Priory School in Lewes. After nine months at Lloyd’s of London, Mr Morgan studied journalism at Harlow College before joining the Surrey and South London Newspaper Group in 1985.

He began his career as a showbiz reporter at the Murdoch-owned tabloid newspaper The Sun in the late 1980s, moving on to lead The News of the World and become Fleet Street’s youngest editor in half a century at 29.

Following a controversy over a decision to publish photographs of Catherine Victoria Lockwood – then wife of Earl Spencer, Princess Diana’s brother – emerging from an addiction clinic, a decision that led the Press Complaints Commission to uphold a complaint against him, Mr Morgan left for The Daily Mirror. He subsequently insisted in his autobiography that the decision to move on was his own.

He edited the red-top for nine years between 1995 and 2004, riding out another controversy over a mock Nazi-themed headline about the England football team’s Euro 96 semi-final against Germany, for which he apologised, but eventually stepped down over a scandal concerning fake photographs purporting to show British Army officers abusing Iraqi prisoners during the War on Terror.

Piers Morgan with Rupert Murdoch, executive chairman of News Corp

While The Mirror ran an apology for falling victim to a “calculated and malicious hoax”, Mr Morgan refused to admit the pictures were inauthentic and argued that the abuse depicted was nevertheless representative of what was really happening on the ground, as indicated by the Abu Ghraib affair.

The newspaper has subsequently been dogged by allegations that some of its reporters engaged in phone hacking during the period that coincided with Mr Morgan’s reign as editor, accusations made repeatedly during the Levenson Inquiry into British press standards, although he has always denied having any involvement in the practice.

Mr Morgan has subsequently become best known as a TV presenter, having appeared as a judge on both America’s Got Talent (2006-11) and Britain’s Got Talent (2007-10) and fronting ITV’s on-off celebrity interview series Life Stories between 2009 and 2021 and CNN’s Piers Morgan Live from 2011 to 2014.

Most recently, he hosted ITV’s breakfast show Good Morning Britain with Susannah Reid between 2015 and 2021 before storming off air himself when controversy erupted over his criticisms of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry in the wake of their tell-all interview with Oprah Winfrey.

Regulatory watchdog Ofcom received a record-breaking 57,000 complaints about Mr Morgan’s expression of doubt about Ms Markle’s claims of mistreatment by the royal family and ensuing mental health problems, including one from the Duchess of Sussex herself.

The body ultimately ruled that any rebuke would have a “chilling effect” on freedom of speech while nevertheless questioning his “apparent disregard” for her wellbeing.

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