According to Phillip Schofield, he will cooperate with an independent investigation ITV commissioned into the details of his contentious relationship with a former This Morning coworker.
The 61-year-old former host admitted having a “unwise but not illegal” connection with a younger male colleague last week and resigned from the station. He was also dropped by his talent agency, YMU.
ITV’s CEO, Dame Carolyn McCall, said that the firm has hired a lawyer to conduct an independent investigation to “establish the facts” in a letter to Parliament on Wednesday.
In response to Schofield’s admission, she has also been asked to go before a parliamentary committee and respond to inquiries regarding ITV’s safeguarding and complaint-handling policies.
In a sit-down interview with the BBC on Friday, Amol Rajan questioned Schofield about who on his team was aware of the relationship.
He replied: “Nobody, to my knowledge. I mean, somebody has to know something for there to be a rumour later on. I didn’t believe that anybody knew.”
He added: “Nobody knew and this has been the cataclysm of the lie… it starts in a denial and then the rumours start and then you lie.
“You’ve had a workplace fling and you lie about it, and a great many people who have had a workplace fling have lied about it. And I fully appreciate there is a massive age gap, but that happens in life as well.”
The letter sent to Parliament said ITV records 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.”
Schofield confirmed he and his former lover were questioned by ITV about the relationship and, when asked if the investigation was a “sham”, he said: “I think if you have two people who are lying then what can you do?”
He noted that the manner in which he was asked “wasn’t formal”, adding: “I think, bearing in mind that there were two people who were absolutely intransigent in their denial, that it would have been pretty hard.”
When questioned about whether he discussed shifting the younger man to another program with anyone at ITV, Schofield vehemently denied it.
“Absolutely, categorically not. He was a really good colleague, runner, very good, and so he applied to go to Loose Women and got the job entirely on his own merit,” he said.
He continued by saying that he “does not believe there is any truth” to the claims that ITV had persuaded his ex-lover to resolve a conflict that had arisen on This Morning.
Addressing the allegations that he abused his power in the workplace, Schofield said: “Obviously that criticism has been levelled at me but I’ve never done that in my whole life, I’ve never abused my power anywhere. I’m not a bully.
“You read the things that you’re supposed to be. I don’t lord it around TV studios. Everyone is a friend.
“Most of the messages I’ve got are from people that I’ve worked with saying ‘Oh my god, I can’t believe they’re saying this, we love working with you’.”
The former host acknowledged having “snapped” at a producer once as he was coming out, but he claimed to have “immediately” apologized to her.
When asked if he would cooperate with the independent investigation ITV had requested, Schofield replied simply, “Yeah.”
In Dame Carolyn’s letter, ITV was reportedly given the go-ahead to “review our records and talk to people involved” by Jane Mulcahy KC of Blackstone Chambers.
“This work will also consider our relevant processes and policies and whether we need to change or strengthen any,” it said.
The decision to examine ITV executives following Schofield’s departure was described as “not a witch hunt” by the chairwoman of the Culture, Media, and Sport Committee on Friday morning.
Asked on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme why MPs are getting involved, Conservative MP Dame Caroline Dinenage said: “First of all, I want to take the individuals concerned out of this to the extent that I can. This is not a witch hunt.
“This is about the fundamental issues of safeguarding and complaint-handling that this incident has shone a light on.
“Our committee regards the duty of care towards staff, particularly when it comes to public service broadcasters, as a matter of very high importance. And there are a number of really significant issues that this case shines a light on.
“And not least of which is this potential abuse of power, the workplace culture. We know that these gods of broadcasting, if you like, have phenomenal power.”