ITV Boss Tells MPs: Phillip Schofield’s Relationship With Junior Colleague Deemed “Deeply Inappropriate”

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 06: Phillip Schofield attends the TRIC awards at Grosvenor House on July 06, 2022 in London, England.
(Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)
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ITV CEO Dame Carolyn McCall Labels Phillip Schofield’s relationship and Affair With Junior Colleague “Deeply Inappropriate” During Parliamentary Committee Appearance.

Dame McCall, the CEO of ITV, testified before the Culture, Media, and Sport Committee on Wednesday, where she expressed her view on Phillip Schofield’s affair with a junior colleague, deeming it “deeply inappropriate.” Her appearance aimed to address inquiries regarding ITV’s safeguarding measures and complaint-handling procedures following Schofield’s departure as the host of This Morning.

During her testimony to MPs, the 61-year-old chief executive, Dame Carolyn McCall, emphasized the concerning aspects of the relationship between Schofield and a younger colleague on the show, identified in the hearing as Person X. She highlighted the “imbalance of power, the imbalance of dynamics,” which she deemed as the key factors that rendered their relationship “deeply inappropriate.”

Dame Carolyn McCall assured the MPs that ITV would have taken appropriate action regarding the affair, but she mentioned that both parties involved had denied the allegations. She further explained that, despite an ongoing investigation, no evidence of the relationship had surfaced thus far.

Dame Carolyn McCall disclosed that she became aware of rumors surrounding the affair in February 2020, coinciding with Phillip Schofield’s public announcement about his sexuality. Following his revelation, there was a surge of “speculation and rumour” surrounding the situation, drawing attention to the alleged affair.

“We started looking at it in December 2019, but it ramped up…the noise out there ramped up in February 2020,” she said.

“We worked very very hard for many many months in fact until recently to ask people – not just Phillip Schofield and Person X, but people in production – if they knew something was going on.

“It was repeatedly denied by both individuals, but also no one in the team said every said there was anything that they could say…in fact most of them said ‘we don’t know what’s going on’.”

Dame Carolyn McCall further stated that the ITV staff had the opportunity to reach out to the externally operated anonymous helpline provided by ITV “at any time.” However, despite this avenue being available, no one came forward, and the management received no evidence substantiating the alleged relationship.

“If any one of the individuals you have named or referenced had come to us and said ‘there’s evidence of a relationship between Phillip Schofield and Person X’, with evidence we would have been able to launch a formal investigation,” said Dame McCall.

“Because the imbalance of power, the imbalance of dynamics in that relationship makes it deeply inappropriate, and we have policies that say that very clearly.

“If we’d had any formal evidence we’d have done an investigation. It’s not in our interest in any way not to investigate something that we know has evidence to support it.”

Dame Carolyn McCall raised the point that initiating a formal investigation “with no legal reason” could have caused “a huge amount of damage”.

“The mental health issues around the strain – the psychological strain – on Person X etc would have been quite intense,” she said. “And so we didn’t have any legal grounds to do that.

“Nobody here or on the management board would ever turn a blind eye to something as serious as this.”

Dame Carolyn McCall at the Parliamentary Committee Appearance

Following his admission of an affair with a younger male colleague on This Morning, Phillip Schofield, 61, resigned from ITV and was subsequently dropped by his talent agency YMU. Schofield described the affair as “unwise but not illegal.” However, since his departure, allegations of “toxicity” have plagued the show.

Dr Ranj Singh, the show’s former resident doctor, criticized the “toxic” culture and revealed that he had raised concerns about “bullying and discrimination” two years prior while working on the show. He also expressed feeling like he was pushed out after whistleblowing.

To address the situation, Dame Carolyn McCall penned a letter to culture secretary Lucy Frazer, DCMS Committee chair Dame Caroline Dinenage, and Ofcom‘s chief executive Dame Melanie Dawes. In the letter, she confirmed that ITV had engaged barrister Jane Mulcahy KC of Blackstone Chambers to conduct an external review of the facts surrounding Schofield’s departure.

In her letter, Dame Carolyn stated that an external review, conducted in response to a complaint lodged by Dr Ranj, found “no evidence of bullying or discrimination.”

Dame Carolyn McCall, alongside ITV managing director Kevin Lygo and general counsel and company secretary Kyla Mullins, will face inquiries from MPs on Wednesday concerning the This Morning controversy.

The parliamentary committee hearing will encompass various aspects, including ITV’s initial investigation into the rumours surrounding Phillip Schofield, the independent review carried out by barrister Jane Mulcahy KC, the overall working culture on This Morning and other productions, as well as ITV’s utilization of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) and its whistleblowing policy.

The panel will also discuss the broadcaster’s approach to fulfilling its duty of care, which includes providing support for individuals who have departed from the organization. This aspect will be addressed during the Wednesday session.


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