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Phillip Schofield is ‘broken and ashamed’ after revealing affair

The presenter has resigned from ITV and This Morning.

TRIC Awards 2021 – London
TRIC Awards 2021 – London

Phillip Schofield has said he is “utterly broken and ashamed” over the affair he had with a younger male colleague, but denies grooming the man.

He resigned from ITV last week and was dropped by his talent agency YMU after admitting to an “unwise but not illegal” relationship.

In his first interview since leaving the broadcaster and This Morning, the 61-year-old presenter told The Sun: “I did not, I did not (groom him).

“There are accusations of all sorts of things. It never came across that way because we’d become mates. I don’t know about that.

“But of course I understand that there will be a massive judgment, but bearing in mind, I have never exercised that anywhere else.”

Phillip Schofield
Phillip Schofield (Bradley Collyer/PA)

Schofield also said that his “greatest apology” was to his former lover, who has been brought the “greatest misery into his totally innocent life”.

He added: “I am deeply sorry and I apologise to him because I should have known better…. I will die sorry. I am so deeply mortified.”

Schofield had reportedly first met the man when he was 15 years old, but said the affair did not begin until he was much older and had begun working at ITV.

He also said he thought it “looked shocking” when an old photograph, featuring both him and the man who would later become his lover, emerged online.

Schofield also told the newspaper he did not “lie to protect” his career, but the colleague “didn’t want his name in public”.

He said it began in 2017 after a “consensual moment” in his dressing room and it was “not a love affair, it was not a relationship, we were not boyfriends; we were mates”.

The relationship took place while the TV star was still married to wife Stephanie Lowe and before he came out publicly as gay.

Schofield said his wife was “very, very angry” after he confessed to her, having previously denied the relationship.

He also said: “She got off a plane and I phoned her up and texted  saying, ‘I need to talk to you’. She called back and I told her.”

The BBC is also set to release an interview with Schofield being questioned by Amol Rajan.

Previously, 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.

Amol Rajan
Amol Rajan (Matt Crossick/PA)

In a trailer, the presenter also told BBC News: “It was a totally innocent picture, a totally innocent Twitter follow, of which I follow 11,400 people, and then it was a completely innocent backwards and forwards over a period of time about a job, about careers.

“What’s wrong with that? What’s wrong with talking to someone no matter what age they are?

“Does that mean that if you’re following anyone on Twitter that you absolutely don’t talk to anybody else or you don’t give advice?”

He added: “The brief communications backwards and forwards up to the point that he came to work on This Morning I think was just chat.”

Schofield clarified why his statement last week said the affair was “unwise”, and called it a “very, very grave error”.

He added: “It was consensual, but it was my fault.”

On Thursday, a parliamentary committee called Dame Carolyn McCall to a session on June 14 to answer questions about the broadcaster’s approach to safeguarding and complaint handling following Schofield’s exit.

The chief executive previously wrote a letter on Wednesday in which she revealed the broadcaster had instructed barrister Jane Mulcahy KC of Blackstone Chambers, to carry out an external review of the facts.

It also said the broadcaster had “reviewed” its records and said “when rumours of a relationship” between Schofield and an employee of ITV they “both categorically and repeatedly denied the rumours”.

The letter also said: “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.”

Royal Television Society London Convention 2022
Dame Carolyn McCall, chief executive of ITV (Richard Kendal/RTS)

The letter was addressed to culture secretary Lucy Frazer, Culture, Media and Sport committee chair Dame Caroline Dinenage and Ofcom’s chief executive Dame Melanie Dawes.

Dame Caroline said: “The Committee regards the media industry’s duty of care towards its staff a matter of the highest importance.

“Whilst the recent coverage focuses on the Schofield case, it also raises fundamental issues about safeguarding and complaint handling both at ITV and more widely across the media.

“These issues should, particularly in the case of public service broadcasters, be open to scrutiny. The public must have confidence in the robustness of public service broadcasters’ safeguarding procedures.

“Whilst these are issues that we want to discuss first with ITV, we will also consider them in our regular scrutiny sessions with other public service broadcasters, including the BBC later this month and Channel 4 later in the year.”

Prince’s Trust Awards
Holly Willoughby is due to return to the show on Monday after the half-term break, having taken an early holiday after news of Schofield’s departure emerged (Ian West/PA)

Dame Carolyn’s letter said there has been “a lot of inaccuracy” in reporting and the former employee Schofield admitted to an affair with has been offered support throughout.

Since Schofield’s resignation, This Morning has been plagued by allegations of “toxicity”.

The show’s former resident doctor, Dr Ranj Singh, has hit out at a “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.

In the letter on Wednesday, the ITV boss said that an external review conducted following a complaint made by Dr Ranj found “no evidence of bullying or discrimination”.

Schofield had presented This Morning since 2002, with Holly Willoughby joining the programme in 2009.

Willoughby is due to return to the show on Monday after the half-term break, having taken an early holiday after news of Schofield’s departure emerged.

Alison Hammond and Dermot O’Leary are among the presenters hosting the programme in recent weeks.

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