ITV has asked a barrister to carry out an external review of Phillip Schofield’s departure from This Morning.
The development was announced by the broadcaster’s chief executive, Dame Carolyn McCall, in a letter to Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer, chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee, Dame Caroline Dinenage, and the Ofcom chief executive, Dame Melanie Dawes.
Here are key extracts:
“You will have seen the significant media coverage concerning Phillip Schofield.
“As you would expect we take the matter extremely seriously and have reviewed our own records over the weekend.
“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.”
The letter goes on to say ITV offered “support” to the man who Phillip Schofield said he had an affair with.
“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.
“We consider our approach was reasonable and proportionate at the time and in the circumstances.
“We believe that we did not have any grounds to mount any other sort of investigation.”
The letter also refers to wider claims about This Morning, including allegations of a “toxic culture” by Dr Ranj Singh, a former presenter on the show, saying: “We were sorry to read his statement.”
“We are fully committed to providing every opportunity for anyone who works with us to raise any concern or comments they may have.
“Following a complaint made by Dr Ranj, we appointed an external and independent adviser to carry out a review.
“This external review found no evidence of bullying or discrimination.
“I want to reassure you that as a producer and broadcaster, ITV takes its responsibilities around duty of care and speaking up seriously and has robust and well-established processes in place which allow anyone who works with us to raise concerns they may have anonymously.
“The confidential reporting number and other ways of raising concerns are promoted via a number of channels, which includes ITV’s internal staff website, across ITV buildings and how to speak up is part of ITV’s code of ethics and conduct annual mandatory training for all staff.
“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.”