Halifax Labour MP Holly Lynch in 2019 co-ordinated a letter from 72 female MPs in support of Meghan in 2019, and has now suggested legislation may ultimately be needed to make the press take responsibility for its coverage of high-profile women.
“What we said in that letter was there’s got to be an integrity to the British press, to know when something is in the public interest or when it is just tearing down a woman in public life for no reason,” Ms Lynch said.
“Some of that will be harder to find very clear guidance, legislation, to make sure that happens in reality, but clearly we cannot have a position where a woman in public life finds that she is feeling suicidal because of the relentless nature of the attacks on her and on her character, so we need to find ways that we can create that environment where a woman isn’t hounded in the way that we saw Meghan Markle being hounded.”
She said MPs take freedom of the press seriously but it “comes with a responsibility to not be engaged in relentless and aggressive bullying of a woman – which is not about accountability, which is about tearing down somebody’s character for no good reason”.
She said legislators have demonstrated “time and time again” that a voluntary approach to press regulation is the preferred option “but how long do you continue to let that fail before you have to recognise it has failed and say ‘what next?’”.
“We are in the very early stages of saying ‘OK, what next?’, because we are certainly at that point.”
It comes after it was revealed the Duchess of Sussex formally complained to ITV about Piers Morgan before the Good Morning Britain co-host quit following comments he made over the pair’s interview with Oprah Winfrey.
Mr Morgan left the breakfast show after an on-air row with a colleague who criticised him for “continuing to trash” the duchess, after he said earlier this week he “didn’t believe a word” of her interview.
It is understood the duchess’s concern was not about the personal attacks on the validity of her racism allegation made against the royal family, or her claims she was not supported by the institution when experiencing suicidal thoughts, but how Morgan’s comments may affect the issue of mental health generally and those attempting to deal with their own problems.