PHILLIP Schofield “reluctantly declined” to take part in an external review following his ITV departure due to “risk to his health”, Politicalite can reveal.
The former ‘This Morning‘ presenter quit the show – which he fronted for just over two decades – after he admitted to an “unwise but not illegal” affair with a younger male colleague – that was first exposed by Politicalite in 2020.
A report by Jane Mulcahy KC was published on Thursday and revealed staff at ITV still feared that speaking out about certain issues could “have a detrimental impact on their careers”.
In a letter in August, Schofield’s lawyer said the star “reluctantly declined” to participate because of the “risk to his health”.
They added that his “mental health has since deteriorated”.
Mulcahy explained that a letter from the young man’s own lawyers said he “wanted to move on with his life and was not prepared to assist with this review”.
As the report was not a statutory inquiry, it means the barrister had “no power to compel people to cooperate”, meaning anyone who did take part did so voluntarily.
Of the 48 people interviewed for the review, only one reported that they knew about the affair.
The barrister added that they did not report this at the time, “nor did others report suspicions from much earlier in 2017”.
However, Mulcahy has “no doubt” that senior management at ITV are “absolutely wedded to the importance of an open culture”.
She insisted the same culture has not filtered down to junior staff, and she noted those employees need “the confidence to raise concerns to management in line with ITV’s ‘Speaking Up’ policy”.
She has recommended that the broadcaster needs clear guidelines on good behaviour “even by those who are household names”, while the review found that ITV’s management “made considerable efforts to determine the truth” about the affair.
However, it noted that in the “face of the denials of the individuals involved, ITV was unable to uncover the relevant evidence”.
ITV’s chairman Andy Cosslett said: “We are completely committed to creating an environment where everyone is treated with respect and feels able to give of their best.
“Our promise to those we work with is that where a complaint is made, or serious concerns raised, we will always investigate and if we find that something inappropriate has happened, we will take action.
“We will continue to develop our efforts to give junior colleagues the confidence to speak up if they have something to raise.”
Chairwoman of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee Dame Caroline Dinenage, who grilled the broadcaster over Schofield’s admission earlier this year, said: “There is a need for ITV to do much more to encourage people to speak out, and to support junior staff”.
The MP added: “It is not enough to have policies and procedures in place – staff, especially junior ones, need to know it’s safe to use them. I look forward to hearing more from ITV as it works to build this open culture throughout the organisation.
“New initiatives such as the recommended talent charter are a step in the right direction for tackling power imbalance.”
She also said a new creative industry body, called Creative Industries Independent Standards Authority (CIISA), that has previously suggested it wants to recommend sanctions for harmful behaviour in the industry, will help ITV and the media change the industry.
Schofield’s co-host Holly Willoughby left the show in October after 14 years on the sofa.
Since the long-time presenting duo departed, there has been a rotation of presenters taking the helm including Alison Hammond, Dermot O’Leary, Josie Gibson and Craig Doyle, with Rylan Clark and Emma Willis the latest duo to front the show.