Piers Morgan did not breach the broadcasting code when he made negative comments about the Duchess of Sussex's interview with Oprah Winfrey, Ofcom has ruled.
Morgan's remarks on Good Morning Britain, which ultimately led to him quitting the show, attracted a record 57,000 complaints to the regulator, including one from the duchess herself.
In the Oprah interview, the duchess said she had experienced suicidal thoughts. Morgan told viewers the next day: "I'm sorry, I don't believe a word she said. Meghan Markle – I wouldn't believe it if she read me the weather report."
The watchdog ruled that the ITV programme did not breach the broadcasting code, despite Morgan's views being "potentially harmful and offensive".
It said that "the restriction of such views would, in our view, be an unwarranted and chilling restriction on freedom of expression both of the broadcaster and its audience".
'Potentially harmful and offensive to viewers'
An Ofcom spokesman said: "This was a finely-balanced decision. Mr Morgan's comments were potentially harmful and offensive to viewers, and we recognise the strong public reaction to them.
"But we also took full account of freedom of expression. Under our rules, broadcasters can include controversial opinions as part of legitimate debate in the public interest, and the strong challenge to Mr Morgan from other contributors provided important context for viewers.
"Nonetheless, we've reminded ITV to take greater care around content discussing mental health and suicide in future. ITV might consider the use of timely warnings or signposting of support services to ensure viewers are properly protected."
Morgan said the Ofcom ruling was a "resounding victory".
He tweeted: "I'm delighted Ofcom has endorsed my right to disbelieve the Duke & Duchess of Sussex's incendiary claims to Oprah Winfrey, many of which have proven to be untrue. This is a resounding victory for free speech and a resounding defeat for Princess Pinocchios. Do I get my job back?"
Morgan's comments were the most-complained about TV moment in Ofcom's history.
The duchess contacted ITV personally to say that Morgan's attitude could prove damaging to others suffering with mental health problems.
Morgan was ordered by ITV bosses to apologise. He refused and resigned from the programme.
'Harmful rhetoric' that was 'sufficiently contextualised'
A significant number of complaints objected to Morgan "belittling" the duchess' account of experiencing racism, in addition to his "harmful rhetoric" that "made a mockery of suicide" and could "lead to a higher chance of people taking their own lives".
Ofcom said the comments about racism "had the potential to be highly offensive to some viewers" but broke no rules because they were "sufficiently contextualised".
In its conclusion, the regulator said: "The Duke and Duchess of Sussex had given a lengthy primetime interview in which they made a number of serious allegations about their treatment within the Royal household.
"This interview became a major international news story and we acknowledged it was both legitimate and in the public interest for ITV to broadcast debates featuring presenters such as Mr Morgan scrutinising those allegations including the veracity, timing and possible motivations of the claims.
"Consistent with the right to freedom of expression, broadcasters can portray strong views on the matter, including views casting doubt on the claims made."