ITV has hired a solicitor to conduct an independent investigation into Phillip Schofield’s resignation from This Morning.
Dame Carolyn McCall, the network’s chief executive, confirmed the announcement in a letter obtained by the PA news agency.
Schofield, 61, shockingly admitted last week to lying about an affair with a man over 30 years his junior, calling it ‘unwise but not criminal,’ in an admission that came just days after resigning from This Morning.
He has subsequently resigned from ITV as a whole, been terminated by his agency, and was fired as an ambassador for the Prince’s Trust on Tuesday.
Following his resignation, an external examination of the facts is now underway, as stated in a letter from Dame McCall to Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer, DCMS Committee head Dame Caroline Dinenage, and Ofcom chief executive Dame Melanie Dawes.
In the letter, she wrote that ITV takes the matter ‘extremely seriously and have reviewed our own records … [which] show that when rumours of a relationship between Phillip Schofield and an employee of ITV first began to circulate in late 2019/early 2020 ITV investigated.’
‘Both parties were questioned then and both categorically and repeatedly denied the rumours, as did Phillip’s then agency YMU. In addition, ITV spoke to a number of people who worked on the This Morning and wider Daytime team and were not provided with, and did not find any evidence of a relationship beyond hearsay and rumour.’
She claims that the network proceeded to investigate both men, who ‘continued to refute the reports, including as recently as this month,’ adding that there has been ‘a lot of inaccuracies in the reportage’ and that they wanted to’set out some facts.’
She went on to address the younger man’s age, stating that he was 19 when he first began working at This Morning and 20 when he got involved full-time, and that he requested and was given a promotion to Loose Women in 2019, at which point he departed This Morning.
‘The ITV employee was aged 19 when he first did work experience at This Morning in 2015 and 20 years old when he applied and succeeded in securing a job as a runner on the show. He subsequently applied for and was successful in securing a promotion to Loose Women in 2019. He left ITV in 2021.
‘As you would imagine given the social media scrutiny of him, we have offered him our support throughout this period and indeed are still doing so. The employee has made it clear that he does not wish to be named or identified in connection with this matter. We would be grateful if you would be mindful of this.’
She went on to reiterate that ITV feels ‘badly let down’ by Schofield lying about the affair.
‘The relationships we have with those we work with are based on trust. Phillip made assurances to us and his agency which he now acknowledges were untrue and we feel badly let down.
‘We consider our approach was reasonable and proportionate at the time and in the circumstances. We believe that we did not have any grounds to mount any other sort of investigation.’
The letter goes on to address other recent charges of a ‘toxic’ environment on set, notably by former This Morning regular Dr Ranj Singh, and states that ITV is’sorry to read his remark.’
‘We are fully committed to providing every opportunity for anyone who works with us to raise any concern or comments they may have. Following a complaint made by Dr Ranj, we appointed an external and independent advisor to carry out a review. This external review found no evidence of bullying or discrimination.
‘I want to reassure you that as a producer and broadcaster, ITV takes its responsibilities around duty of care and speaking up seriously and has robust and well-established processes in place which allow anyone who works with us to raise concerns they may have anonymously.
‘The confidential reporting number and other ways of raising concerns are promoted via a number of channels, which includes ITV’s internal staff website, across ITV buildings and how to speak up is part of ITV’s code of ethics & conduct annual mandatory training for all staff.’
She confirmed an external review has now been launched to establish the facts in Schofield’s departure.
‘We have now instructed Jane Mulcahy KC (Blackstone Chambers) to carry out an external review to establish the facts. She will review our records and talk to people involved. This work will also consider our relevant processes and policies and whether we need to change or strengthen any.
‘Given Phillip’s admission of the extent of his deception the work will extend to cover any related issues that may emerge. This work will be carried out as quickly as possible and we will be happy to share the outcome.’
Source My Celebrity Life.