Piers Morgan wouldn’t speak to the person who tried to get him sacked from Good Morning Britain. So we did

On October 13, PinkNews reported that thousands of people were calling for ITV to fire Piers Morgan for his “dehumanising” treatment of trans people.

The petition was started by Twitter user @hotboykennedy – musician Liam Austen – and had at that point been signed by a little more than 6,000 people.

Five days later, almost 27,000 people have signed it and it’s been in most UK media outlets.

Morgan discussed it on GMB on October 14, saying that he’s “not remotely transphobic”, before adding, “Why can’t I be a two-spirit penguin, why can’t I just decide that’s what I identity as?”

The next day, he invited gay journalist Benjamin Butterworth and India Willoughby – a trans woman who no longer considers herself to be trans – on to GMB to discuss the petition and gender identity. The resulting 16-minute segment saw Morgan call non-binary people “ludicrous”.

PinkNews spoke to the person who started it all. The following interview has been edited for length.

What made you set up the petition, calling for ITV to fire Piers Morgan from Good Morning Britain?

I remember seeing Piers’ debate with Benjamin Butterworth last month. His comments about “identifying as a penguin” were being rightfully reprimanded by the people I follow. I emailed ITV  the same day.

[I wanted] to not let it slip under the rug as it so often does.

One of the Viewer Services Team got back to me about three weeks later, informing me that while they understood Piers’ comments caused offence, they valued the “humour” more so. The complete disregard they showed in their response spurred me to publish the exact same letter I sent to them alongside a petition, to try and get some added support and visibility and to not let it slip under the rug as it so often does.

Have you been surprised by the amount of attention it’s got?

Completely. I expected Piers to have something to say if he saw it, but the fact he retweeted it so early on – before it had even reached 100 signatures – led to an intolerable barrage of abuse, death threats and general transphobia/homophobia from his fans via direct messages, Instagram, and even my private email account (somehow). Then it started being picked up by news outlets, and I realised it was quickly becoming much bigger than I’d anticipated.

The fact that Good Morning Britain have run with it and once again made a complete mockery of it isn’t surprising in the least, but it’s been rewarding to see so many people stand up for equality when thousands are actively fighting against it in Piers Morgan’s name. I do also think the social media attention has detracted from the original point and I regret being responsible for an uncontrollable torrent of hatred and abuse towards my peers, but if it leads to even more people calling out the reprehensibility of the situation, that’s something to be proud of.

Would you have gone on GMB if they’d have asked you?

No. As much as I dream of being able to question the entire team on their morals live on air, I simply couldn’t ever give Piers Morgan the satisfaction of abusing his position of power and shouting over me for 10 minutes.

Why do you think you weren’t invited on?

Because they know what they’re doing is wrong. I’ve challenged Good Morning Britain as an entity, letting every single person on that team know they’re responsible. Instead they bring on Benjamin Butterworth, the journalist who was involved in the original debate over 100 genders, and India Willoughby, arguably one of the worst spokespeople for the LGBTQ+ community – she “no longer identifies as trans”.

GMB’s own poll showed that 59% of people who responded thinks Piers should be sacked. How do you feel about this?

It’s pretty telling, isn’t it? People will want to reduce the significance of it to being “just a Twitter poll”, but let’s not forget – Piers Morgan has now spent the better part of this week continuously begging his fans, both on Twitter with an audience of 6.8 million and on national television, to vote in his favour and yet it still hasn’t gone his way.

Piers Morgan (L) debated with journalist Benjamin Butterworth on whether the Good Morning Britain should should be sacked for his anti-trans comments. (Screen capture via ITV)

Piers Morgan (L) debated with journalist Benjamin Butterworth on whether the Good Morning Britain should should be sacked for his anti-trans comments. (Screen capture via ITV)

I think it’s important to look at the wider discourse, too. People are very explicitly calling Good Morning Britain out for their deplorability, so it will be interesting to see if they respond. Outside of Piers’ Twitter bubble, people are definitely vocalising the damning problems I wanted to raise awareness to in the first place, despite the pantomime it’s evolving into.

People are very explicitly calling Good Morning Britain out for their deplorability

GMB’s social-media team, and Piers himself, use “the gender debate” as a way of getting clicks. How do you feel about that?

Honestly, it’s baffling. I cannot and will never be able to understand how anyone could ever be so entitled, selfish and ignorant as to value another human being’s whole existence as worthy of being mocked, vilified and negated on a public platform in the name of engagement. If anyone else was to be so openly prejudiced and hateful with the way they talked about/to people in their place of work, their job wouldn’t even be up for discussion.

What would you say to Piers, if you got a chance to speak to him?

Where would I begin?

Where would I begin? I think the first thing I’d have to ask him is where the “humour” supposedly lies in dismissing the existence of an entire group of people on national television, because I and thousands of others are having a hard time finding it.

Morgan confirmed on 16 October that he will be taking a short break from Good Morning Britain, to spend time with his children over half term.