This Morning editor Martin Frizell has said “scores are being settled” when asked about claims of a toxic work environment at the ITV show. In the wake of Phillip Schofield’s resignation after admitting an affair with a younger male colleague, former employees hit out at the broadcaster and criticised its workplace culture. On Saturday, Mr Frizell told Sky News to “read between the lines” amid these claims of toxicity, adding: “I think there’s some scores being settled.”
He added: “All I want to say is, I am working with a fantastic team of mainly women, many mums, a lot of them concerned for their jobs, although we’ve told them not to be. “But this is the 23rd day now of being on the front page and it’s tiring, they worked all through Covid brilliantly, they worked all through this putting a programme out…and I just think they need a bit of respite now.”
'They're not commodities, they're people': Caroline Flack's mother criticises ITV for its treatment of its presenters, ITV News' Callum Watkinson reports
The show’s former resident doctor, Dr Ranj Singh, previously hit out at a “toxic” culture at This Morning.
He said he'd raised concerns about “bullying and discrimination” two years ago when he worked there and afterwards felt like he was “managed out” for whistleblowing. In a letter to parliament on Wednesday, ITV boss Dame Carolyn McCall said an external review conducted following a complaint made by Dr Ranj found “no evidence of bullying or discrimination”.
Meanwhile Eamonn Holmes, who previously presented This Morning on Fridays with wife Ruth Langsford until 2020, accused Schofield of “toxicity” in an interview with Dan Wootton on GB News earlier this week.
Amid the fallout of Schofield's affair and departure from ITV, the 61-year-old former presenter said he was afraid to leave the house and feared he would be spat at in the street.
In an interview for the Sun newspaper, he said: “I don’t have any spirit. My friends tell me, ‘It will get better’. It won’t. Not now. Not this one. I am getting by hour by hour. I have got my girls and my friends.” He previously said he had “lost everything” after admitting to the affair, and that the fallout had had a “catastrophic effect” on his mind during a broadcast interview with BBC’s Amol Rajan.
Schofield, who said he was “utterly broken and ashamed” but denied he had “groomed” the younger man, praised his daughters Ruby and Molly for “guarding him”. “Last week, if my daughters hadn’t been there then I wouldn’t be here. And they’ve guarded me and won’t let me out of their sight, it’s like a weird numbness,” he said.
Referring to the Love Island host who took her own life in February 2020, he added: “I think I understand how Caroline Flack felt.”
Flack’s mother, Christine Flack, told the BBC’s Newsnight programme that Schofield was now “realising even more” what her daughter went through before her death and that they should have been “looked after” by ITV. During the BBC interview, Schofield also spoke about his friend and This Morning co-presenter Holly Willoughby, confirming she knew nothing of the affair. Willoughby, who had presented the show alongside Schofield since 2009, is due to return to the show on Monday after the half-term break, having taken an early holiday following Schofield’s departure.
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Alison Hammond and Dermot O’Leary have been among the presenters hosting the programme in recent weeks. ITV boss Dame Carolyn has been called to a parliamentary committee on June 14 to answer questions about the broadcaster’s approach to safeguarding and complaint handling following Schofield’s exit. On Wednesday, she confirmed the broadcaster had instructed barrister Jane Mulcahy KC of Blackstone Chambers to carry out an external review of the facts. – For anyone who needs help, Samaritans can be contacted for free on 116 123, emailed at email@example.com, or visit www.samaritans.org to find your nearest branch.