Phillip Schofield has said he will comply with an external review commissioned by ITV into the facts surrounding his controversial affair with a former This Morning colleague.
The 61-year-old ex-presenter resigned from the broadcaster last week and was dropped by his talent agency, YMU, after admitting having an “unwise but not illegal” relationship with a younger male colleague.
ITV chief executive Dame Carolyn McCall wrote a letter to Parliament on Wednesday in which she revealed that the company has commissioned a barrister to carry out an external review to “establish the facts”.
She has also been called to give evidence to a parliamentary committee to answer questions about ITV’s approach to safeguarding and complaint-handling following Schofield’s admission.
Schofield was asked by the BBC’s Amol Rajan in a sit-down interview on Friday about who on his team knew about 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.”
Asked whether he spoke to anyone at ITV about moving the younger man on to another programme, Schofield strongly 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 added that he does “not believe there is any truth” in the allegations that ITV moved his former lover to solve a problem that had been festering 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 presenter admitted that he once “snapped” at a producer around the time he was coming out but said he “immediately” apologised to her.
Asked whether he will comply with the external review which ITV has commissioned into the situation, Schofield simply said: “Yeah.”
Dame Carolyn’s letter said ITV has instructed Jane Mulcahy KC, of Blackstone Chambers, to “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,” it said.
On Friday morning, the chairwoman of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee said the decision to question ITV executives in the wake of Schofield’s departure is “not a witch hunt”.
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.”