ITV in crisis: Broadcaster launches review after Phillip Schofield leaves This Morning

ITV announced an external review after Phillip Schofield left This Morning

ITV has instructed a barrister to carry out an external review of the facts following Phillip Schofield’s departure from This Morning, chief executive Dame Carolyn McCall has said in a letter.

The letter was sent to culture secretary Lucy Frazer, DCMS Committee chair Dame Caroline Dinenage and Ofcom’s chief executive Dame Melanie Dawes, in the wake of Schofield’s departure from ITV last week.

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

Speaking to TalkTV's Julia Hartley Brewer, media commentator Nigel Pauley said: "They're obviously trying to put down a flat bat before next Tuesday so they can tell MPs that they'd love to discuss it but there's external inquiry."

ITV bosses are expected to appear before MPs on the Culture, Media and Sport Committee, where Schofield’s conduct could be raised.

The session is expected to focus on scrutiny of the forthcoming Media Bill, with SNP MP John Nicolson – a committee member – writing on Twitter: “The issues erupting around ITV have been a cause for concern.

“I look forward to getting some answers from ITV bosses.”

Since Schofield’s resignation, This Morning has been plagued by allegations of “toxicity”.

His relationship took place while the TV star was still married to wife Stephanie Lowe and before he came out publicly as gay.

Schofield had presented This Morning since 2002, with Willoughby joining the programme in 2009.

Asked about Holly Willoughby, who recently removed This Morning from her Instagram bio, Mr Pauley said: "Her career will be okay if she leaves This Morning. She's not gonna leave the sofa next week because that would just put fuel on the fire with the flames.

"I think ITV need to totally reboot this programme, which started again in September. They normally have a bit of a summer break. This year, there'll be a lot of thought into how they bring this back."

The Letter in Full

Dear Lucy, Dame Caroline, and Dame Melanie,

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.

There has been a lot of inaccuracy in the reporting so I thought it would be useful to set out some facts.

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. 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.

There have also been wider stories about This Morning including about a former This Morning presenter Dr Ranj. 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 advisor 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 & 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.

If in the meantime you have any questions, please let me know.

Kind regards,

Carolyn McCall DBE

Chief Executive