‘Categorical denials’ of Schofield affair until apology, say ITV chiefs

The chief executive of the broadcaster Dame Carolyn McCall faced questions from MPs in Parliament.

ITV bosses have said both Phillip Schofield and his younger lover “repeatedly denied” allegations of a relationship until the former This Morning presenter departed ITV and formally apologised.

ITV chief executive Dame Carolyn McCall faced questions from MPs alongside ITV managing director Kevin Lygo and general counsel and company secretary Kyla Mullins about Schofield’s exit during Wednesday morning’s Culture, Media and Sport Committee session in Parliament.

Dame Carolyn told MPs the “imbalance of power, the imbalance of dynamics” made the relationship “deeply inappropriate”, and ITV would have taken action, but no evidence of the relationship appeared during on-going reviews.

She said “we were repeatedly told nothing was happening”, and both men denied it “both formally and informally”.

“There was only hearsay and rumour and speculation… Nobody on the board would have turned a blind eye to something as serious as this,” she said.

It comes after Schofield, 61, resigned from ITV and was dropped by his talent agency YMU after admitting to an “unwise but not illegal” affair with a younger male colleague on the show.

Since his resignation, This Morning has been plagued with allegations of “toxicity”.

Dame Carolyn confirmed Schofield is “receiving counselling” since his exit and she is “very concerned” about his welfare.

She also confirmed there is “no gagging order or NDA” to stop the younger lover speaking out about the situation.

The session will cover ITV’s initial investigation into rumours regarding Schofield, the ITV-commissioned review into the facts by barrister Jane Mulcahy KC, the working culture on This Morning and other productions, as well as ITV’s use of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) and its whistleblowing policy.

The broadcaster’s approach to its duty of care, including support for those who have left the organisation, will also be discussed with the panel on Wednesday.

In a letter written on Monday to committee chair Dame Caroline Dinenage, Dame Carolyn set out the terms of reference for the external review led by Jane Mulcahy KC which will “consider the facts of this case and assess our relevant processes and policies” to decipher if it needs to be changed or strengthened.

Dame Carolyn confirmed in the letter that the barrister will review complaints since January 1 2016 “by employees or freelancers working on This Morning” and consider whether the steps taken were “appropriate and adequate”.

She also anticipated the review to be completed by the end of September this year.

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