ITV has commissioned an external review following Phillip Schofield's departure from This Morning and the admission that he had lied about an affair with a younger colleague
ITV has brought in a top lawyer to look into how the channel handled the Phillip Schofield affair and his exit from This Morning.
The broadcaster's chief executive announced it had instructed Jane Mulcahy KC to carry out an external review, in a letter to broadcasting regulator Ofcom and the culture secretary on Wednesday.
Just over a week ago Schofield left This Morning and days later admitted to lying about an “unwise, but not illegal” affair he had with a younger colleague on the show.
Since then ITV announced the 61-year-old would be leaving the channel and he was dropped by his talent agency YMU, as well as brands he was working with.
The letter from Dame Carolyn MCall says ITV investigated the affair when "rumours" started in late 2019/early 2020 but those involved denied it and continued to do so "as recently as this month".
It also confirms the This Morning colleague, who does not want to be identified, was aged 19 when he first did work experience on the show and 20 years old secured a job as a runner.
The letter says following Phillip Schofield's statement on the affair, ITV reviewed its records on a previous investigation into the relationship.
The letter reads: "These 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.
“Given the ongoing rumours, we continued to ask questions of both parties, who both continued to deny the rumours, including as recently as this month.
"There has been a lot of inaccuracy in the reporting so I thought it would be useful to set out some facts.”
In the letter, Dame Carolyn said the employee Phillip Schofield admitted to an affair with has been offered support throughout.
She said: “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.
“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."
The letter continued: “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.”
The letter to the culture secretary also referred to wider stories about This Morning, including allegations of a “toxic culture” by Dr Ranj, a former presenter on the show, saying: “We were sorry to read his statement.
The letter said: "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."
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