Despite claiming to be “utterly broken and ashamed” over his involvement with a younger male colleague, Phillip Schofield denies grooming the man.
After admitting to a “unwise but not illegal” relationship, he quit ITV last week and was fired by his talent agency, YMU.
In his first interview since leaving the broadcaster and This Morning, the 61-year-old presenter told The Sun: “I did not, I did not (groom him).
“There are accusations of all sorts of things. It never came across that way because we’d become mates. I don’t know about that.
“But of course I understand that there will be a massive judgment, but bearing in mind, I have never exercised that anywhere else.”
Schofield also said that his “greatest apology” was to his former lover, who has been brought the “greatest misery into his totally innocent life”.
He added: “I am deeply sorry and I apologise to him because I should have known better…. I will die sorry. I am so deeply mortified.”
According to reports, Schofield initially met the man when he was 15 years old. However, he said that the relationship did not start until the man was much older and had started working at ITV.
He added that he thought it “looked shocking” when an old photo of him and the person he would later fall in love with surfaced online.
Additionally, Schofield told the newspaper that his colleague “didn’t want his name in public” and that he did not “lie to protect” his job.
It was “not a love affair, it was not a relationship, we were not boyfriends; we were mates,” he claimed, and it started in 2017 after a “consensual moment” in his dressing room.
The couple got together before the TV personality openly came out as gay and while he was still wed to Stephanie Lowe.
Schofield claimed that his wife was “very, very angry” with him after he admitted to having a relationship with her after initially denying it.
He also said: “She got off a plane and I phoned her up and texted saying, ‘I need to talk to you’. She called back and I told her.”
Amol Rajan will challenge Schofield in an interview that will also be published on the BBC.
In the past, Schofield’s attorneys have acknowledged that they first met when the kid was 15 years old, but they also stated that the relationship started after the man began working for ITV.
In a trailer, the presenter also told BBC News: “It was a totally innocent picture, a totally innocent Twitter follow, of which I follow 11,400 people, and then it was a completely innocent backwards and forwards over a period of time about a job, about careers.
“What’s wrong with that? What’s wrong with talking to someone no matter what age they are?
“Does that mean that if you’re following anyone on Twitter that you absolutely don’t talk to anybody else or you don’t give advice?”
He added: “The brief communications backwards and forwards up to the point that he came to work on This Morning I think was just chat.”
Schofield clarified the reasons for calling the affair “very, very grave error” and calling it “unwise” in his comments from last week.
He added: “It was consensual, but it was my fault.”
A parliamentary committee on Thursday invited Dame Carolyn McCall to a hearing on June 14 to respond to inquiries regarding the broadcaster’s protection and complaint-handling policies in the wake of Schofield’s departure.
The broadcaster had asked Blackstone Chambers attorney Jane Mulcahy KC to conduct an external examination of the facts, the chief executive previously acknowledged in a letter she wrote on Wednesday.
Additionally, it stated that the broadcaster had “reviewed” its records and that when Schofield and an ITV staffer were the subject of relationship rumors, they “both categorically and repeatedly denied the rumors.”
The letter also said: “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 was sent to Ofcom’s CEO, Dame Melanie Dawes, Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer, and the head of the committee, Dame Caroline Dinenage.
Dame Caroline said: “The Committee regards the media industry’s duty of care towards its staff a matter of the highest importance.
“Whilst the recent coverage focuses on the Schofield case, it also raises fundamental issues about safeguarding and complaint handling both at ITV and more widely across the media.
“These issues should, particularly in the case of public service broadcasters, be open to scrutiny. The public must have confidence in the robustness of public service broadcasters’ safeguarding procedures.
“Whilst these are issues that we want to discuss first with ITV, we will also consider them in our regular scrutiny sessions with other public service broadcasters, including the BBC later this month and Channel 4 later in the year.”
According to Dame Carolyn’s letter, there has been “a lot of inaccuracy” in the reporting, and Schofield’s former coworker has consistently been offered support.
Since Schofield’s departure, This Morning has been dogged by “toxicity” claims.
Dr. Ranj Singh, a former resident physician on the show, has denounced a “toxic” workplace environment. He claims that after raising concerns about “bullying and discrimination” two years ago, he was “managed out” for his actions.
The ITV executive wrote on Wednesday that there was “no evidence of bullying or discrimination” after an external investigation into a complaint from Dr. Ranj.
Holly Willoughby began appearing on This Morning in 2009, after Schofield had hosted the show since 2002.
Willoughby, who took an early vacation after learning of Schofield’s resignation, is scheduled to return to the program on Monday following the half-term break.
Among the hosts of the program in recent weeks are Alison Hammond and Dermot O’Leary.