A recent Twitter spat between presenter Piers Morgan and industry campaigner Adeel Amini has resulted in an open letter to ITV requesting that the broadcaster denounce bullying in all forms and reveal the findings of internal discussions around Morgan’s conduct.
The letter, organized by a grassroots group entitled “TV Freelancers United,” began gaining traction over the weekend, and has to date garnered close to 1,200 signatories, encompassing commissioners, channel executives, managing directors and executive producers. More than 1,000 freelancers from production, post-production, on-screen talent, writers, talent agents and accountants have also signed the letter, which has now been presented to ITV executives.
Amini worked as a researcher on Morgan’s ITV series “Life Stories” for a number of months, and revealed on Twitter last week that he wouldn’t do so again if given the opportunity. Although he made it clear it was Morgan’s show, Amini didn’t directly tag the presenter online.
In response, Morgan who also co-hosts popular ITV breakfast show “Good Morning Britain,” responded: “Hi Adeel, you spent precisely two months working on Life Stories in 2010 & judging by your CV that was the pinnacle of your TV career. So you really don’t need to worry about getting any more job offers from me because I’d rather employ a lobotomised Aardvark.”
He later labeled Amini an “abusive hypocrite” after the campaigner urged his followers to “call out bullies.”
The open letter to ITV, which is addressed to CEO Carolyn McCall, director of programs Kevin Lygo and the wider group, reads: “Like many within our industry, we have been appalled by the online conduct of Piers Morgan in directing targeted abuse towards a freelancer. Morgan, with 7.7 million Twitter followers, has repeatedly targeted and tagged a former staff-member in derogatory posts.
“As freelancers working within television, we feel a responsibility to speak out against bullying and harassment wherever we see it, including from on screen personalities who are all too often poorly reprimanded for unacceptable behaviour and abusive conduct,” the letter continues. “Last year, conversations facilitated by The TV Mindset and other organizations, including The Coalition for Change, BECTU and the Edinburgh Television Festival, reiterated the need to eradicate the widespread issue of bullying and harassment. Now is the time for action.
“We believe silence in the face of harassment is complicity, which in turn allows abusive behaviour to continue behind the scenes at every level of programme making. In particular, the abuses of on-screen talent are all too often overlooked, at the expense of the dignity, health and safety of the freelancers they target. We hope you agree with us in denouncing bullying in all forms and publicly announcing the findings of ITV’s internal investigation into this matter.”
Amini founded the media industry support group The TV Mindset, which has focused on mental health issues and support for freelancers. At the 2020 Edinburgh TV Festival awards, he was presented with the industry champion award for his campaigning on behalf of industry freelancers. His producing credits include “Lingo,” “Catchphrase” and “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.”