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Phillip Schofield defends This Morning amid affair furore and ‘toxicity’ claims

He accused people with ‘loud voices’ of bearing a ‘grudge’ against him.

Phillip Schofield (Suzan Moore/PA)
Phillip Schofield (Suzan Moore/PA)

Phillip Schofield has defended This Morning as it came under fire with claims of “toxicity” amid furore over his affair with a younger colleague.

However, shortly after the embattled TV star accused a “handful of people with a grudge against me or the show” of making accusations, former presenter This Morning Eamonn Holmes blasted Schofield as a “liar”, adding: “Pip if u r looking for a fight, u have picked on the wrong person!”

Schofield, 61, resigned from the broadcaster on Friday and was dropped by his talent agency YMU after admitting to an “unwise, but not illegal” affair with a young male colleague on This Morning.

It came after weeks of speculation over a feud with former co-host Holly Willoughby.

National Television Awards 2021 – London
Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby (Ian West/PA)

Former This Morning resident doctor Dr Ranj Singh has hit out at the show’s “toxic” culture, saying he raised concerns about “bullying and discrimination” two years ago when he worked there and afterwards felt like he was “managed out” for whistleblowing.

Holmes has also made allegations about the culture at ITV, saying Schofield was not “the only guilty party”.

In a statement on his Instagram story posted shortly before This Morning went on air with Dermot O’Leary and Alison Hammond hosting on Monday, Schofield said: “Now I no longer work on @thismorning I am free to say this.

“I hope you have noticed that it’s the same handful of people with a grudge against me or the show who seem to have the loudest voice.

“This Morning is the best show to work on, with the best people.

“In all the years I worked there there was no toxicity.

“You can listen to those persistently loud voices if you like.

“But the thousands of guests over the years, thousands of staff and crew, hundreds of presenters and contributors all know, it is a family of wonderful, talented, kind, hard working people.”

Shortly afterwards, Holmes, who previously presented the show on Fridays with wife Ruth Langsford, tweeted: “Schofield has just put out a delusional statement.

“Like Holly he puts it on Insta Stories so if it goes wrong there is no record after 24 hrs.

“I’m reluctant to give the liar any more publicity but believe me Pip if u r looking for a fight , u have picked on the wrong person!”

Holmes, who now presents a breakfast show on GB News, has been vocal in his criticism of Schofield, saying he and Langsford were “deceived and lied to”.

Dianne Nelmes, who was among the team that launched This Morning, said  “it’s time” the ITV programme “in a very dignified way, just moved off and gave way to another new show”.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s PM programme, the television producer also said the show has “felt tired” for a long time and the “tumultuous run of events around Phillip have formed a lightning rod”.

Ms Nelmes said that if she was in charge, she would keep it going until July then bring it back in September with a new presenting team as the current on-screen talent “attract the wrong kind of tabloid interest”.

In a statement on Sunday, Dr Ranj said the “issues” at This Morning go “far beyond” the host.

He said: “I was on the show for 10 years and I genuinely loved and valued working there.

“However, over time, I grew increasingly worried about how things were behind-the-scenes and how people, including myself, were being treated.

“I didn’t know the truth about what was going on with Phillip, but I do know the issues with TM (This Morning) go far beyond him.

“It takes more than one person to create a culture.”

Dr Ranj said he raised his concerns with senior executives at ITV as he had been heavily involved in “diversity, anti-bullying and mental health projects” across the channel.

“I then found myself being used less and less,” he continued.

“I even took my concerns directly to the top of ITV: the culture at This Morning had become toxic, no longer aligned with ITV values, and I felt like because I whistle-blew I was managed out.

“But as history and experience have taught us, things like bullying and discrimination are very hard to prove, particularly in hindsight and when the ‘people in power’ control the narrative.

“As we’ve seen, no review or investigation is foolproof.”

The doctor said he was assured that things would be addressed and changes made but he has not worked on the show since, adding it “still hurts” two years on from lodging complaints.

An ITV spokesperson said: “We are sorry to read Dr Ranj’s post today.

“At ITV we are fully committed to providing every opportunity for anyone who works with us to raise any concern or comments they may have.

“Following a complaint made by Dr Ranj, we appointed an external and independent advisor to carry out a review.

“This external review found no evidence of bullying or discrimination.”

According to The Mail On Sunday, Schofield first met the younger ITV colleague whom he later had an affair with when he was aged 15.

Lawyers representing Schofield have confirmed they met when the boy was 15, but said the affair began after he started working at ITV, and the man’s lawyers have also said that it started after he joined the broadcaster.

In a statement on Friday, Schofield said it was when the younger man joined the show as an adult that their affair began.

ITV said it investigated “rumours of a relationship” between Schofield and the ITV employee about three years ago but both parties “categorically and repeatedly denied” it.

A spokesperson for the broadcaster said on Saturday that ITV was “not provided with, and did not find, any evidence of a relationship beyond hearsay and rumour” when it looked into the matter in 2020.

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