Holly Willoughby says she feels 'let down' as she returns to This Morning for first time since Schofield scandal

Holly Willoughby has said she felt "let down" as she made her first This Morning appearance since her former co-presenter Phillip Schofield resigned over an "unwise, but not illegal" relationship with a younger man.

As she returned to screens after two weeks away, she said she felt "shaken, troubled, let down" and "worried for the wellbeing of people on all sides of what's been going on".

"We have given our love and support to someone not telling the truth," she added.

Schofield, 61, resigned from ITV last month over the affair and has since insisted he "did not" groom the man, who also worked on the show, and who the presenter said was 20 years old when their relationship began.

Willoughby began Monday's show with the emotional statement delivered straight to camera, while holding hands with co-presenter Josie Gibson.

The 42-year-old began with the words, "Right, deep breath," and went on to say: "It feels very strange sitting here without Phil."

She acknowledged that viewers would be "full of questions," adding: "You, me and all of us at This Morning gave our love and support to someone who was not telling the truth, who acted in a way that they themselves felt that they had to resign from ITV, and step down from a career that they loved. That is a lot to process."

While she did not mention Schofield by name again, she directed one more point towards him, continuing: "And it's equally hard to see the toll that it's taken on their own mental health. I think what unites us all now is a desire to heal for the health and wellbeing of everyone."

Read more:
Holly Willoughby's This Morning statement in full
Phillip Schofield: Timeline of ITV departure

Looking ahead to a "new chapter" for the show, she said she hoped "we can find strength in each other" and thanked viewers for their support, "from my heart".

Following her statement, Gibson reached across and gave her a big hug, saying: "All we can do now is be the family that we are."

Willoughby also mentioned other members of the This Morning team, Dermot O'Leary, Alison Hammond, and Craig Doyle - who is understood to be co-presenting alongside her on Tuesday.

Willoughby's return to the show comes after she hit out at her former co-host and accused him of lying to her over his affair.

In a statement last week she said: "When reports of this relationship first surfaced, I asked Phil directly if this was true and was told it was not.

"It's been very hurtful to now find out that this was a lie."

Speaking to Sky News outside the High Court following Willoughby's statement, Schofield's lawyer Jonathan Coad, described the recent media attention around the presenter and his departure from the show, and clarified the part he plays in representing Schofield.

Mr Coad told Sky News: "My role was very simple, and that's to get the truth out on Phillip's behalf. There has been an awful lot of bad stuff about Phillip in the media which isn't true, which I know because I've had access to all the relevant information.

"So, that's the limit of it, getting the truth out and trying to knock out as much of the stuff which isn't true as possible."

Schofield has given two interviews since leaving ITV - one to the BBC and one to The Sun newspaper. In both, he insisted Willoughby did not know about the affair.

He also said he had messaged his former co-presenter since the fallout from his departure, but said she did not reply.

Last week, This Morning editor Martin Frizell told Sky News he believed "scores are being settled," when asked about claims of a toxic culture at the ITV show.

Asked about the workplace environment again this morning, Mr Frizell rather cryptically chatted about aubergines, and then listed guests and presenters scheduled for that day's show.

Schofield's affair took place while the television star was still married to wife Stephanie Lowe, and before he came out publicly as gay in 2020.

He had denied having a relationship with a colleague when questioned by ITV about rumours in early 2020.

ITV has since announced an external review of the saga led by a barrister.