Piers Morgan steps down from his TV show after attacking Meghan Markle

Host storms off set of breakfast show over criticism of his attacks on Prince Harry's wife

LONDON: British journalist and television presenter Piers Morgan stepped down from his high-profile ITV breakfast show on Tuesday after his long-running criticism of Prince Harry's wife Meghan Markle reached a crescendo over the couple's recent televised bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey, which has been watched by more than 49.1 million people around the world.

The network confirmed the departure in a terse statement: "Following discussions with ITV, Piers Morgan has decided now is the time to leave Good Morning Britain. ITV has accepted this decision and has nothing further to add."

The 55-year-old former presenter on CNN has accused the couple of damaging the royal family and seeking publicity on their own terms without accepting the responsibility and scrutiny that come with their position.

Morgan dubbed Markle "Princess Pinocchio" in a tweet, and said on Monday that he did not "believe a word she said" in the interview, during which she had accused the royal family of pushing her to the brink of suicide.

Barely a day after his remarks, Britain's media regulator Ofcom said it had already received more than 41,000 complaints, and announced an investigation under its "harm and offence" rules.

Ms Carolyn McCall, chief executive of ITV, had said earlier that she believed Markle "completely".

Morgan had also stormed off the set on Tuesday morning after clashing with fellow presenter Alex Beresford over the interview.

Beresford told Morgan: "I understand you've got a personal relationship with Meghan Markle, or had one, and she cut you off. She's entitled to cut you off if she wants to. Has she said anything about you since she cut you off? I don't think she has, but yet you continue to trash her."

Morgan, a prolific tweeter who has 7.7 million followers on the platform, did qualify his original comments on Tuesday, saying: "I still have serious concerns about the veracity of a lot of what she (Markle) said, but let me just state for the record about my position on mental illness and on suicide.

"They should be taken extremely seriously and if someone is feeling that way they should get the treatment and help they need every time, and if they belong to an institution like the royal family and they go and seek that help they should absolutely be given it."

Meanwhile, Buckingham Palace said in a statement issued on behalf of Queen Elizabeth: "The whole family is saddened to learn the full extent of how challenging the last few years have been for Harry and Meghan. The issues raised, particularly that of race, are concerning. Whilst some recollections may vary, they are taken very seriously and will be addressed by the family privately." - AFP, REUTERS