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Manchester Evening News
Manchester Evening News
Jessica Sansome

ITV hits back at accusation 'vast majority knew' about Phillip Schofield affair and rebuts Eamonn Holmes' claims

The boss of ITV has hit back at accusations that the 'vast majority knew' about Phillip Schofield's affair. The presenter stepped back as host of This Morning after rumours of a 'feud' between him and co-host Holly Willoughby behind the scenes hit the headlines.

Schofield, 61, then later stepped back from ITV altogether after he admitted to lying to Holly, his employers, and others about an "unwise but not illegal" affair with a younger male colleague., confessing that he concealed the truth about the romance.

On Wednesday (June 14), the chief executive of ITV Dame Carolyn McCall appeared before a parliamentary committee to answer questions about the broadcaster’s approach to safeguarding and complaint handling after Schofield left as host of This Morning.

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The 61-year-old has been facing questions from MPs alongside ITV managing director Kevin Lygo and general counsel and company secretary Kyla Mullins about the This Morning row during Wednesday morning's Culture, Media and Sport Committee session.

Committee Chair Dame Caroline Dinenage turned to Dame Carolyn, outlining how since the story of Schofield's affair emerged, there has been a 'common theme' among figures in the entertainment world claiming to have known about the affair, including Piers Morgan and James Haskell.

"Do you class yourself in the category of the vast majority of people who seemed to know what was going on?" Dame Caroline Dinenage said to the ITV chief executive, asking whether she was claiming that "everyone else knew", except for her and Schofield's fellow This Morning star Holly.

Stressing that ITV was taking the issues ‘extremely seriously’, Dame Carolyn explained that she wished to clear up the 'facts' following 'speculation, rumours and misinformation'. She claimed: "The people that have said they knew would only have heard rumours. If any one of the individuals you referenced had come to us and said there is evidence of a relationship, with evidence, we would’ve been able to launch a formal investigation, because the imbalance of power and dynamics makes it deeply inappropriate."

Dame Carolyn rebutted that it was "the vast majority" of people at ITV, saying: "If they knew, why didn’t they say something to Kevin?", referencing Kevin Lygo, the managing director of media and entertainment at ITV. She said he "speaks to talent all the time", and on the claim the "vast majority of people" allegedly knew about the affair she added: "It doesn’t feel that to me."

Dame Carolyn and Lygo also pushed back on claims made by former This Morning host Eamonn Holmes who claimed ITV management "knew what sort of man he [Schofield] was," in a scathing tweet. "It’s actually defamatory, never mind anything else," Dame Carolyn said.

Lygo suggested that such allegations often come from disgruntled former presenters who were upset about losing their previous ITV jobs. "A lot of these people worked as presenters on ITV for a very long time, and there was never any complaint from them whilst they were there. If anything they wanted 'more work please, we love it here, can we do more'," he said.


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