ITV chiefs said Phillip Schofield's affair was 'deeply inappropriate' as they were quizzed in Parliament on the relationship, ITV News Correspondent Geraint Vincent reports
ITV bosses have said both Phillip Schofield and his younger lover “repeatedly denied” allegations of a relationship until the ex-presenter resigned and formally apologised.
Chief executive at ITV Dame Carolyn McCall 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”.
Dame Carolyn was facing questions from MPs alongside ITV managing director Kevin Lygo and Kyla Mullins, general counsel and company secretary, about Schofield’s exit during Wednesday morning’s Culture, Media and Sport Committee session in Parliament.
ITV News Correspondent Geraint Vincent takes a look at some of the key points to emerge from the committee session
“There was only hearsay and rumour and speculation… Nobody on the board would have turned a blind eye to something as serious as this,” Dame Carolyn said.
She confirmed Schofield is “receiving counselling” since his exit and she is “very concerned” about his welfare, before saying there is “no gagging order or NDA” to stop the younger man involved speaking out about the situation.
Talking about the allegations of a toxic work environment, Dame Carolyn said: "It deeply disappoints me but we do not recognise that at This Morning, we have tangible evidence to tell you where the vast majority of people at daytime at This Morning are extremely engaged and very motivated."
She later added: “When you use those words about our culture, we don’t recognise that at our culture, it doesn’t mean we don’t take it seriously.”
She refuted claims that the broadcaster treated late Love Island presenter Caroline Flack as a "commodity," an accusation Flack's mother made on June 3, saying ITV had “learned nothing” from her daughter’s suicide.
Dame Carolyn said: “We genuinely feel deeply, deeply sad about what happened to Caroline.
“People knew her well at ITV, I spoke to a lot of people at ITV that worked with her and loved working with her on the show because she loved the show.
“The family are obviously grieving. I would say we never feel that we treat anybody, whether it’s a presenter or a member of staff or a junior person that’s coming in for work experience, we would really not treat anyone like a commodity.”
Dame Carolyn then agreed that comments made by This Morning editor Martin Frizell were “foolish” after he referred to aubergines when asked about the allegations directed at the programme.
“I think Martin has made a mistake, I think he knows he made a mistake, I don’t think he intended to say that.
“Kevin (Lygo) has spoken to him, I don’t believe anything Martin said in the heat of the moment is reflective of our culture.
“It was a foolish comment; an ill-advised comment, I absolutely agree.”
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 from former stars Dr Ranj Singh and Eamonn Holmes.
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.
Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know...