Phillip Schofield: ITV investigated rumours of relationship

Phillip Schofield left his role on This Morning last week following reports of a rift with co-star Holly Willoughby
Phillip Schofield left his role on This Morning last week following reports of a rift with co-star Holly Willoughby

ITV has said it investigated rumours of a relationship between Phillip Schofield and a younger employee in 2020 – but both “repeatedly denied” it.

Schofield quit ITV on Friday after admitting he had had an affair with a younger male colleague at the network and had lied to cover it up.

The TV presenter said the relationship had been “unwise, but not illegal”.

Some former ITV daytime figures said the revelations raised questions about how much the network’s managers knew.

An ITV spokesperson said: “Further to our statement last night, ITV can confirm that when rumours of a relationship between Phillip Schofield and an employee of ITV first began to circulate in early 2020, ITV investigated.

“Both parties were questioned 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 This Morning and were not provided with, and did not find, any evidence of a relationship beyond hearsay and rumour.

“Phillip’s statement yesterday reveals that he lied to people at ITV, from senior management to fellow presenters, to YMU, to the media and to others over this relationship.”

Former ITV daytime presenters including Eamonn Holmes and Dan Wootton have suggested ITV bosses have questions to answer about how much oversight they had on one of their most high-profile broadcasters.

Schofield released a statement to the Daily Mail on Friday, saying: “I did have a consensual on-off relationship with a younger male colleague at This Morning.”

He was still married to his wife Stephanie Lowe at the time of the affair. They separated in 2020, after he came out as gay.

Schofield said he was “so, very, very sorry” for being unfaithful to his wife, and for lying to his colleagues, agents, employers, friends, the media, the public and his family about the relationship.

He continued: “Contrary to speculation, whilst I met the man when he was a teenager and was asked to help him to get into television, it was only after he started to work on the show that it became more than just a friendship.

“That relationship was unwise, but not illegal. It is now over.”

He also said he would “reflect on my very bad judgement in both participating in the relationship and then lying about it”.

It follows significant online speculation over several months about Schofield’s personal relationships.

The 61-year-old’s exit from ITV means he will no longer present the British Soap Awards next month.

He will also not front a new prime-time series which the network said last week they were developing with him.

An earlier statement from ITV said: “Phillip made assurances to us which he now acknowledges were untrue and we feel badly let down.”

Dermot O’Leary, who presents This Morning on Fridays opposite Alison Hammond, declined to discuss the matter on Saturday.

“I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to comment, especially without any knowledge,” he told reporters outside BBC Radio 2, where he presents a weekend show.

The latest revelations come just a week after Schofield left his role at This Morning, following reports of a rift with co-star Holly Willoughby.

Schofield had presented This Morning since 2002, with Willoughby joining him as a co-presenter in 2009.

In his statement on Friday, Schofield said his departure from the show was unrelated to the affair with the colleague, who the BBC is not naming.

His final appearance on This Morning was on Thursday 18 May, and he announced his departure from the show that weekend.

Cover presenters Hammond and O’Leary paid tribute to Schofield at the start of Monday’s programme.

Willoughby is currently on holiday but is set to return to the show on Monday 5 June.

Talent agency YMU has also cut ties with the presenter following his announcement about the affair.

In a statement to the BBC, Schofield said: “It is with the most profound regret that after 35 years of being faultlessly managed by YMU I have agreed to step down from their representation with immediate effect.”

In May, his brother Timothy Schofield was jailed for 12 years after being found guilty of sexually abusing a boy.