Morgan at PaleyFest 2013
Piers Stefan O'Meara
30 March 1965
(m. 1991; div. 2008)
Piers Stefan Pughe-Morgan (; né O'Meara; born 30 March 1965) is an English broadcaster, journalist, writer, and television personality. He is currently a co-presenter of the ITV Breakfast programme Good Morning Britain from Monday to Wednesday each week.
Morgan began his career in Fleet Street as a writer and editor for several tabloid papers, including The Sun, News of the World, and the Daily Mirror. In 1994, aged 29, he was appointed editor of the News of the World by Rupert Murdoch, which made him the youngest editor of a British national newspaper in more than half a century. On television, he hosted Piers Morgan Live on CNN from 2011 to 2014, replacing Larry King Live in the timeslot following King's retirement. He was a judge on America's Got Talent and Britain's Got Talent. In 2008, Morgan won the seventh season of the US Celebrity Apprentice. In the UK, he has presented Piers Morgan's Life Stories since 2009, and Good Morning Britain since 2015. Morgan has written eight books, including four volumes of memoirs.
While working at Daily Mirror, he was in charge during the period that the paper was implicated in the phone hacking scandal. In 2011, Morgan denied having ever hacked a phone or "to my knowledge published any story obtained from the hacking of a phone". In 2012, he was criticised in the findings of the Leveson Inquiry by chair Brian Leveson who stated that comments made in Morgan's testimony about phone hacking were "utterly unpersuasive" and "that he was aware that it was taking place in the press as a whole and that he was sufficiently unembarrassed by what was criminal behaviour that he was prepared to joke about it".
Morgan was born Piers Stefan O'Meara on 30 March 1965 in Surrey, the son of Vincent Eamonn O'Meara, an Irish dentist from County Offaly, and Gabrielle Georgina Sybille (née Oliver), an English woman who raised Morgan Catholic. With regard to his religious views, Morgan still identifies as a Catholic due to his mother's influence, and believes in an afterlife, but does not "go to Confession, probably because it would take [him] too long". He has a brother, Jeremy, who is older than him by two years. A few months after his birth, the family moved to Newick, East Sussex. His father died when Morgan was 11 months old; his mother later married Glynne Pughe-Morgan, a Welsh pub landlord who later worked in the meat distribution business, and he took his stepfather's surname. He was educated at the independent Cumnor House prep school between the ages of seven and 13, then Chailey School, a comprehensive secondary school in Chailey.  After nine months at Lloyd's of London, Morgan studied journalism at Harlow College. Morgan joined the Surrey and South London Newspaper Group in 1985.
Morgan began to work as a freelance at The Sun in 1988, at this point dropping his double-barrelled name. He told Hunter Davies in December 1994 that he was personally recruited by Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie to work on the newspaper's show business column "Bizarre", his first high-profile post. Although he was not a fan of pop music, he was considered skilled at self-publicity and became the column's main writer. "I became the Friend of the Stars, a rampant egomaniac, pictured all the time with famous people - Madonna, Stallone, Bowie, Paul McCartney, hundreds of them. It was shameless, as they didn't know me from Adam", he told Davies.
In January 1994, he became editor of the News of the World after being appointed to the job by Rupert Murdoch. Initially an acting editor, he was confirmed in the summer, becoming at 29 the youngest national newspaper editor in more than half a century.
Morgan left this post in 1995 shortly after publishing photographs of Catherine Victoria Lockwood, then wife of Charles, Earl Spencer, leaving an addictive disorders clinic in Surrey. This action ran against the editors' code of conduct, a misdemeanour for which the Press Complaints Commission upheld a complaint against Morgan. Murdoch was reported as having said that "the boy went too far" and publicly distanced himself from the story. Fearful of a privacy law action if he had not criticised one of his employees, Murdoch is said to have apologised to Morgan in private.
The incident was reported to have contributed to Morgan's decision to leave for the Daily Mirror editorship. Morgan's autobiography The Insider states that he left the News of the World for the Mirror of his own choice. It asserts he was an admirer of former Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher for most of her period of office, making the appointment surprising as the Mirror is a Labour-supporting title.
As editor of the Daily Mirror, Morgan was forced to apologise on television for the headline (rendered in upper case) "Achtung Surrender! For You Fritz Ze Euro Championship Is Over" on 25 June 1996, a day before England met Germany in a semi-final of the Euro '96 football championships.
A £16 million package of investment in the title was rolled out from January, including the dropping of "Daily" from the masthead in February, which was later reversed. Roy Greenslade wrote in August 1999 that Morgan's editorship "has made a huge difference: his enormous enthusiasm, determination and focus is a major plus".
Morgan was the subject of an investigation in 2000 after Suzy Jagger wrote an article for The Daily Telegraph revealing that he had bought £20,000 worth of shares in the computer company Viglen soon before the Mirror 's "City Slickers" column tipped Viglen as a good buy. Morgan was found by the Press Complaints Commission to have breached the Code of Conduct on financial journalism, but kept his job. The "City Slickers" columnists, Anil Bhoyrul and James Hipwell, were both found to have committed further breaches of the Code and were sacked before the inquiry concluded. Further enquiry by the Department of Trade and Industry in 2004 cleared Morgan of any charges. On 7 December 2005, Bhoyrul and Hipwell were convicted of conspiracy to breach the Financial Services Act. During the trial it emerged that Morgan had bought £67,000 worth of Viglen shares, emptying his bank account and investing under his (first) wife's name, too.
The Mirror attempted to move mid-market in 2002, eschewing the more trivial stories of show-business and gossip, and appointed Christopher Hitchens as a columnist, but sales declined. In the wake of the Abu Ghraib torture scandal, Morgan was sacked as editor of the Daily Mirror "with immediate effect" on 14 May 2004, after refusing to apologise to Sly Bailey, then head of Trinity Mirror, for authorising the newspaper's publication of photographs which had been shown to be false. These were alleged to show Iraqi prisoners being abused by British Army soldiers from the Queen's Lancashire Regiment. When, within days the photographs were shown to be crude fakes, under the headline "SORRY..WE WERE HOAXED", the Mirror responded that it had fallen victim to a "calculated and malicious hoax" and apologised for the publication of the photographs. However, Morgan has refused to admit that the photographs were faked, and has stated that the abuse shown in the photographs is similar to the sort of abuse which was happening in the British Army in Iraq at the time.
In partnership with Matthew Freud, he gained ownership in May 2005 of Press Gazette, a media trade publication together with its "cash cow", the British Press Awards, in a deal worth £1 million. This ownership was cited as one of the reasons many major newspapers boycotted the 2006 awards.Press Gazette entered administrative receivership toward the end of 2006, before being sold to a trade buyer.
First News was launched by Morgan on 4 May 2006. A weekly paper aimed at seven to 14-year-olds, he said at its launch that the paper was to be "Britain's first national newspaper for children". Morgan was editorial director at First News, responsible for bringing in celebrity involvement. He referred to the role as "editorial overlord and frontman".
Morgan was filmed falling off a Segway, breaking three ribs, in 2007. Simon Cowell outspokenly mocked Morgan's previous comment in 2003, in a Mirror headline after former U.S. President George W. Bush fell off a Segway: "You'd have to be an idiot to fall off wouldn't you, Mr President".
In 2012, following the revelation of Jimmy Savile's sexual abuse against children, Morgan said to have "never met" Savile in his lifetime; however, it was pointed out that in a 2009 piece by Morgan in The Mail on Sunday Night & Day magazine he wrote that "As I left, Jimmy Savile came up to me. 'Your TV shows are BRILLIANT!, he exclaimed. ... I've always loved Jimmy Savile."
Morgan's career expanded into television presenting before he left the Daily Mirror. He presented a three-part television documentary series for the BBC titled The Importance of Being Famous (2003), about fame and the manner in which celebrities are covered by modern media. At the annual Pride of Britain Awards broadcast on ITV, Morgan chaired a panel of prominent people who had chosen the recipients of the awards from 1999 to 2006.
He co-hosted a current affairs interview show on Channel 4 with Amanda Platell, Morgan and Platell. Morgan and Platell were put together because of their opposing political viewpoints; Platell interrogated guests from the right wing, Morgan from the left wing. The show was dropped after three series reputedly because of poor viewing figures, although the chairman of Channel 4 Luke Johnson was reported not to like the programme.
Throughout 2006, Morgan appeared as a judge on the television show America's Got Talent alongside Brandy Norwood and David Hasselhoff on NBC. Morgan was chosen by Simon Cowell as a replacement for himself because of the conditions of his American Idol contract. Morgan appeared as a celebrity contestant on Comic Relief Does The Apprentice in 2007, to raise money for the BBC charity telethon Comic Relief. After his team lost, Morgan was selected by Sir Alan Sugar as the contestant to be fired.
Also in 2007, Morgan appeared as a judge for the second season of America's Got Talent and also appeared as a judge on Britain's Got Talent on ITV, alongside Amanda Holden and Simon Cowell. He also presented You Can't Fire Me, I'm Famous on BBC One. He fronted a three-part documentary about Sandbanks for ITV entitled Piers Morgan on Sandbanks in January 2008.
In 2008, Morgan signed a two-year "golden handcuffs" deal with ITV in May, reportedly worth £2 million per year. As part of the deal, he would continue as a judge on Britain's Got Talent for at least two more series and front a new chat show. He also made some interview specials, plus three more documentaries from various countries. Morgan's golden handcuffs deal was the first signing by ITV's new director of television, Peter Fincham.
In February 2009, he began a three-part series, Piers Morgan On..., which saw him visit Dubai, Monte Carlo and Hollywood. The programme returned for a second series in 2010 when Morgan visited Las Vegas in one episode.
Also in 2009, his began hosting Piers Morgan's Life Stories on ITV, with Sharon Osbourne as the subject of the first episode. Other guests on the programme included Cheryl and the then Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
On 8 September 2010, CNN announced that Morgan would replace Larry King in the network's evening line-up with his show, Piers Morgan Live, beginning on 17 January 2011. After poor ratings, CNN announced that the show was to be axed. It was cancelled in February 2014 and ended its run in March 2014. Commenting on the viewing figures, Morgan said that he was "a British guy debating American cultural issues, including guns, which has been very polarizing, and there is no doubt that there are many in the audience who are tired of me banging on about it."
From 13 to 17 April 2015, Morgan guest-hosted five episodes of Good Morning Britain on ITV and became a permanent co-host in November 2015, appearing alongside Susanna Reid and Charlotte Hawkins. "You can't help but go into battle with him every morning", Reid has said of her colleague with whom she has clashed.
From 2016 to 2017, Morgan interviewed female murderers on the TV series Killer Women with Piers Morgan. He also presented Serial Killer with Piers Morgan, as part of the 2017 Crime & Punishment season on ITV. In October 2018, Morgan appeared as a cameo on Hollyoaks.
In April 2020, Morgan announced he would be taking a break from his television roles as he awaited a COVID-19 diagnosis. He tested negative for the disease, before returning to his presenting duties.
Morgan was the winner of the U.S. celebrity version of The Apprentice, in 2008. He was eventually the overall winner, being named Celebrity Apprentice by host Donald Trump on 27 March, ahead of fellow finalist, American country music star Trace Adkins, and having raised substantially more cash than all the other contestants combined. Morgan was called "ruthless, arrogant, evil and obnoxious" by Trump in the final.
Morgan stated he personally would not vote for Trump in the 2016 United States presidential election (though as a permanent resident of the United States, not a citizen, he is not qualified to vote). He predicted Trump's election as President of the United States and has described himself as a close friend. Morgan interviewed Trump on Good Morning Britain in March 2016.
Morgan appeared on ITV's Loose Women panel show in late January 2017, and was challenged to repudiate Trump. He refused to do so, despite stating that he disagreed with him on many issues relating to gun control, climate change, abortion, and the "Muslim travel ban", saying that he found the principle of the ban understandable, but disagreed with "the way [Trump] has gone about it".
Nearly a fortnight later, on the American talk show Real Time with Bill Maher, Morgan said "There is no Muslim ban", as "85% of the world's Muslims are allowed in the country". Another participant in the discussion, Australian comedian Jim Jefferies, immediately swore at Morgan and criticised his defence of Trump. After the novelist J. K. Rowling tweeted "Yes, watching Piers Morgan being told to fuck off on live TV is *exactly* as satisfying as I'd always imagined", the two began an exchange of words on the social media site.
Morgan criticised Trump after he retweeted Jayda Fransen, deputy leader of the small right-wing party Britain First in late November 2017. He tweeted to Trump: "What the hell are you doing retweeting a bunch of unverified videos by Britain First, a bunch of disgustingly racist far-right extremists? Please STOP this madness & undo your retweets".
In January 2018, Morgan presented President Trump - The Piers Morgan Interview for ITV, which many thought of as "sycophantic" and a "love-in" for Trump. Of respondents to a Radio Times Twitter poll, 88% viewed Morgan as being not "tough enough" on Trump. Morgan interviewed Trump again in July 2018 during his official visit to the UK, this time on Air Force One during an internal flight, in a TV special entitled Piers, The President and Air Force One.
In April 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Morgan wrote a highly critical article of Trump's handling of the crisis in his column for MailOnline. Morgan particularly took issue with Trump's suggestion of looking into "ingesting" disinfectant as a possible solution, describing it as "batshit crazy". In response to the criticism, Morgan announced Trump had unfollowed him from Twitter.
Morgan appeared as a guest on the BBC satirical news quiz Have I Got News for You in an episode transmitted on 24 May 1996. In it, show regular Ian Hislop accused Morgan of having him followed and having his house watched. The conflict escalated and at one point the host, Angus Deayton, asked if they wished to go outside and have a fight. Later on, guest panellist Clive Anderson confronted Morgan commenting, "the last time I was rude to you, you sent photographers to my doorstep the next day", to which Piers Morgan retorted, "You won't see them this time." The audience responded loudly in favour of Hislop. "We're about to start exposing the moon-faced midget", Morgan was quoted as saying in 2002, to which Hislop responded, "all he's been offering for information about my private life is a £50 reward. My friends think that's not nearly enough."
In 2007, Hislop chose Morgan as one of his pet hates on Room 101. In doing so, Hislop spoke of the history of animosity between himself and Morgan and said that after their exchange on Have I Got News For You (which was shown as a clip), Morgan's reporters were tasked with trying to get gossip on Hislop's private life (including phoning acquaintances of Hislop), and photographers were sent in case Hislop did anything untoward or embarrassing while in their presence. Neither the reporters nor the photographers succeeded. Hislop also said that Morgan had attempted to quell the feud in an article in The Mail on Sunday, saying, "The war is over. I'm officially calling an end to hostilities, at least from my end. I'm sure it won't stop him carrying on his 'Piers Moron' stuff" (Private Eye, the fortnightly satirical magazine which Hislop edits, regularly calls Morgan 'Piers Moron') Hislop, who was working on a World War I documentary at the time, responded by asking "Is that an armistice or an unconditional surrender?" Although Paul Merton - host of Room 101 at the time and good friend of Hislop - agreed to put Morgan into Room 101, he then comically rejected Morgan as being "too toxic" for Room 101.
In October 2003, journalist and television personality Jeremy Clarkson reportedly emptied a glass of water over Morgan during the last flight of Concorde for some photographs published in the Mirror. In March 2004, at the British Press Awards, Clarkson punched Morgan three times during another argument.
On 4 February 2014, transgender advocate Janet Mock appeared as a guest on Piers Morgan Live to discuss her memoir, Redefining Realness. After the interview aired, Mock sent a series of tweets criticising Morgan for describing Mock as being "formerly a man". Morgan responded that he had "never been treated in such a disgraceful manner" by a guest. On 5 February, Mock appeared as a guest again to debate the dispute.
Morgan strongly objected to the Women's March on Washington on 21 January 2017, the day after Trump's inauguration, describing protesters as "rabid feminists" and the multiple protests as being "vacuous". The actor Ewan McGregor disagreed with Morgan's statements on the women's march and pulled out of appearing on Good Morning Britain the following Tuesday after discovering Morgan would be interviewing him, along with Reid. Morgan accused McGregor of being a "paedophile-loving hypocrite" for his past support of Roman Polanski.
In May 2011, Morgan banned actor Hugh Grant from his shows on CNN and ITV after Grant spoke out against the need for the tabloid press. On Twitter he responded: "Hugh Grant is now banned, in perpetuity, from @PiersTonight and Life Stories and anything else I ever do. Tedious little man."
On 28 March 2012, MTV referred to the bad relations between Morgan and Madonna, reporting that "Morgan has apparently felt slighted over the years by Madonna...he claims he was lied to by the singer's publicist".
In September 2012, it was reported that Morgan had also banned actor Kelsey Grammer. Morgan himself claimed, "Kelsey Grammer saw a photo of his ex-wife Camille in the open of our show and legged it."TVGuide reported, "All plans were still a go for the segment until Grammer actually got in the hot seat and saw the footage the producers had planned to peg to the segment, including a picture of his ex-wife". On 26 September 2012, Fox 11 Los Angeles reported that "many say [it] was an ambush by Piers".The Huffington Post reported that "before the interview was scheduled, it was made clear that Grammer would answer all questions, including those about [his ex-wife]. His sole request was not to show any images of her."
During Morgan's tenure as editor, the Daily Mirror was advised by Steven Nott that voicemail interception was possible by means of a standard PIN code. Despite staff initially expressing enthusiasm for the story it did not appear in the paper, although it did subsequently feature in a South Wales Argus article and on BBC Radio 5 Live in October 1999. On 18 July 2011 Nott was visited by officers of Operation Weeting.
In July 2011, in a sequence of articles, political blogger Paul Staines alleged that while editor of the Daily Mirror in 2002 Morgan published a story concerning the affair of Sven-Goran Eriksson and Ulrika Jonsson while knowing it to have been obtained by phone hacking.
On 20 December 2011, Morgan appeared as a witness by satellite link from the United States at the Leveson Inquiry. While he said he had no reason to believe that phone hacking had occurred at the Mirror while he was in charge there, he admitted to hearing a recording of an answerphone message left by Paul McCartney for Heather Mills, but refused to "discuss where that tape was played or who made [it] - it would compromise a source." Appearing as a witness at the same Inquiry on 9 February 2012, Mills was asked under oath if she had ever made a recording of McCartney's phone call or had played it to Morgan; she replied: "Never". She said that she had never authorised Morgan, or anybody, to access or listen to her voicemails. Mills told the inquiry that Morgan, "a man that has written nothing but awful things about me for years", would have relished telling the inquiry if she had played a personal voicemail message to him.
On 23 May 2012, Newsnight presenter Jeremy Paxman was a witness at the Leveson Inquiry. He recalled a lunch with the Mirror editor in September 2002 at which Morgan outlined the means of hacking into a mobile phone.
On 28 November 2012, the Channel 4 documentary Taking on the Tabloids, fronted by actor and phone hacking victim Hugh Grant, showed footage from a 2003 interview with Morgan by the singer and phone hacking victim Charlotte Church, during which he explained to her how to avoid answerphone messages being listened to by journalists. He said: "You can access ... voicemails by typing in a number. Now, are you really telling me that journalists aren't going to do that?"
On 29 November 2012, the official findings of the Leveson Inquiry were released, in which Lord Justice Leveson said that Morgan's testimony under oath on phone hacking was "utterly unpersuasive". He stated: "[The] evidence does not establish that [Morgan] authorised the hacking of voicemails or that journalists employed by TMG [Trinity Mirror Group] were indulging in this practice ... What it does, however, clearly prove is that he was aware that it was taking place in the press as a whole and that he was sufficiently unembarrassed by what was criminal behaviour that he was prepared to joke about it."
On 6 December 2013, Morgan was interviewed, under caution, by police officers from Operation Weeting investigating phone hacking allegations at Mirror Group Newspapers during his tenure as editor.
On 24 September 2014, the Trinity Mirror publishing group admitted for the first time that some of its journalists had been involved in phone hacking and agreed to pay compensation to four people who sued for the alleged hacking of voicemails. Six other phone-hacking claims had already been settled. The BBC reported that it had seen legal papers showing that although the alleged hacking could have taken place as early as 1998, the bulk of the alleged wrongdoing took place in the early 2000s when Morgan was the Daily Mirror editor. The admissions by Trinity Mirror came whilst the London Metropolitan Police investigation into the phone hacking allegations was ongoing. Morgan has always denied any involvement in the practice.
In 2015, Morgan was criticised by Ofcom for laughing as a guest repeatedly used the F-word live on air. Although Ofcom did not take action as his co-presenter Susanna Reid quickly apologised, the watchdog expressed concern at his behaviour. In 2016, Ofcom received 70 complaints in relation to comments made by Morgan during interview with Christian magistrate Richard Page about gay marriage, that viewers felt "implied Christians were homophobic". Ofcom confirmed on 13 April 2016 that Morgan would not be investigated for his comments. On 22 January 2018, during a story about a homeless SAS veteran, who had a petition set up in his name calling on his local council to provide him with social housing, Morgan had refused to read out Herefordshire Council's statement. This was judged by Ofcom to be unfair to the council.
On 11 September 2019, Morgan claimed he identified himself as "a penguin" in response to a news piece relating to gender neutrality, and said "the world has gone nuts" over gender. This attracted 950 Ofcom complaints from viewers. He was cleared of any wrongdoing in November 2019, and in response, Morgan admitted "he was personally quite pleased" with having one of the highest number of complaints to any British TV show in 2019.
On 21 January 2020, Morgan was accused of racism and was hit by 1,095 Ofcom complaints for his comments relating to a Chinese dairy advert, in which he said "He's using ching chong ching milk". Morgan also spoke over the advert, saying "ching chang cho jo". He was accused online of using language which is used to antagonise Chinese people and for mocking the Chinese language.
Morgan married Marion Shalloe, a hospital ward sister, in 1991. The couple had three sons, Albert, Spencer, and Stanley, and divorced in 2008. In June 2010, he married his second wife, journalist Celia Walden, daughter of the former Conservative MP George Walden. Morgan announced in mid 2011 that the couple were expecting a child, and on 25 November 2011, Walden gave birth to a daughter, Elise, her first child and Morgan's fourth.
Morgan is a fan of Premier League football club Arsenal F.C. He was an outspoken critic of former Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger and called for his sacking on many occasions. Speaking in defence of Wenger in 2015, former Arsenal goalkeeper Bob Wilson labelled Morgan an "incredibly pompous individual". When Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey met Morgan on 26 April 2015, Ramsey refused to shake his hand due to the criticism he received from Morgan during the 2012-13 season. Morgan has responded by calling Ramsey 'whatshisname'.
Politically, Morgan identified as a supporter of the Conservative Party in a 1994 interview. He voted for the Kensington Conservative candidate in the 2019 UK general election, after previously voting for the Animal Welfare Party.
Sean Fletcher and John Stapleton
| Main presenter of Good Morning Britain
| Editor of the News of the World
| Editor of the Daily Mirror