Phillip Schofield: ITV chief aware of ‘rumours’ about ‘deeply inappropriate’ affair three-years ago

Phillip Schofield on ITV's This Morning in 2020

Phillip Schofield on ITV's This Morning in 2020

Jack Walters

By Jack Walters

Published: 14/06/2023

- 10:49

Updated: 14/06/2023

- 16:07

The former This Morning co-host quit ITV's flagship show following a feud with colleague Holly Willoughby and rumours about a relationship with a former staffer

ITV's top brass was aware of "rumours" about Phillip Schofield's "deeply inappropriate" affair with a younger runner three-years ago, the broadcaster's boss has revealed.

Dame Carolyn McCall faced a grilling in front of MPs at the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee in Westminster.

ITV's chief executive, who took on the role in 2019 after serving as boss of airline EasyJet, was called before MPs as part of their enquiries into the broadcaster's safeguarding procedures.

Dame Carolyn confirmed ITV officials became aware of the rumours about Schofield, 61, having a relationship with a younger member of This Morning's production team in early 2020.

ITV boss Dame Carolyn appearing in front of MPs

Dame Carolyn confirmed ITV officials became aware of the rumours about Schofield, 61, having a relationship with a younger member of This Morning's production team in early 2020

GB News

The 61-year-old said: “I really became aware of those rumours when Phillip came out in February 2020.

“That is the first time things got really febrile and social media was awash with some extremely nasty comments about Phillip … and there was a lot of speculation out there.”

She added: “In February 2020 is when Kevin [Lygo] and I spoke about it but we actually started looking at it in December 2019 but the noise out there ramped up in 2020.”

Dame Carolyn stressed Schofield and the former This Morning staff member "repeatedly denied" rumours about their relationship.

She also labelled the affair as "deeply inappropriate" due to its "imbalance of power".

ITV's chief executive also responded to claims made by ex-presenter Piers Morgan, associate editor of The Daily Mirror Kevin Maguire and former England rugby star James Haskell that everyone knew about the rumours.

ITV secretary Kyla Mullins speaking to MPs

ITV's secretary Kyla Mullins was called on by the broadcaster's boss to clarify the sequencing of events.

GB News

Dame Carolyn claimed: "The people who have said they knew would only have heard rumours about it.

"If any one of the individuals that you have named or referenced had come to us and said there is evidence that there is a relationship between Phillip Schofield and person X we would have, with evidence, been able to launch a formal investigation."

She added: "You've named three high profile individuals who say they knew.

"If they knew why didn't they say something to Kevin?

"Kevin has conversations with all of those people as talent all the time."

ITV's secretary Kyla Mullins was called on by the broadcaster's boss to clarify the sequencing of events.

Phillip Schofield (left) and Holly Willoughby (right)Phillip Schofield (left) and Holly Willoughby (right)ITV

She told MPs: "We first really became aware of speculation and social media speculation which was triggered by a newspaper article on December 6, 2019 ... our head of daytime and head of production spoke to person X because he was being inundated by journalists contacting him, was aware of social media and asked the question at that stage is there any truth in this, is there anything we need to know about a relationship with Phillip Schofield? And the answer was a categorical no."

Mullins confirmed conversations continued with person X into early 2020, adding: "At each stage, he categorically denied it."

Conversations were also held with Schofield after the veteran This Morning presenter came out as gay in February 2020.

Mullins concluded: "Conversations continued in May this year right up until the day when Phillip finally admitted that he had been lying to us and at each stage denials."

Schofield last month admitted to having an "unwise but not illegal affair" with a younger member of the This Morning team.

The 61-year-old quit from ITV's flagship show and later left the broadcaster.

Phillip Schofield

Phillip Schofield rejected grooming a young male employee in an interview


Schofield remains adamant that he did not groom the younger colleague but conceded his actions were unprofessional.

Following his departure, ITV issued a statement confirming when the broadcaster launched its investigation.

It said: “ITV can confirm that when rumours of a relationship between Phillip Schofield and an employee of ITV first began to circulate in early 2020 ITV investigated.

“Both parties were questioned 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 This Morning and were not provided with, and did not find, any evidence of a relationship beyond hearsay and rumour.

“Phillip's statement reveals that he lied to people at ITV, from senior management to fellow presenters, to YMU, to the media and to others over this relationship.”

This Morning's South Bank studioThis Morning's South Bank studioPA

However, Dame Carolyn told MPs enquires into Schofield's rumored relationship did not constitute an investigation.

She said: "I wouldn't qualify this as an investigation. I think this was a review. It was an ongoing review that every time there were periods of intense speculation we went in and asked questions."

GB News host Dan Wootton picked up on the slight difference in language on social media.

Wootton said: "Last month, ITV said it 'investigated' the relationship between Phillip Schofield and a young runner.

"Today, in front of MPs, its CEO Carolyn McCall says 'it was not an investigation, it was an ongoing review'.

"The cover up is slowly being exposed."

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