British broadcaster ITV has said it investigated “rumours of a relationship” between Phillip Schofield and an ITV employee around three years ago but claimed that both parties “repeatedly denied” it.
The veteran presenter, 61, resigned from the company on Friday and was dropped by his talent agency after admitting to an “unwise, but not illegal” affair with a young male colleague on This Morning.
A spokesperson for ITV said on Saturday that the broadcaster 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.
“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,” the statement read.
“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.”
‘Very, very sorry’
Schofield revealed the affair began while he was still with his wife Stephanie in a statement published by the Daily Mail on Friday, adding he was “very, very sorry” for having been unfaithful to her.
It comes after he announced he was stepping down from presenting the ITV talk show with “immediate effect” last weekend while co-presenter Holly Willoughby will remain on the programme.
Schofield, who also co-hosted Dancing On Ice with Willoughby, said he would also step down from presenting the British Soap Awards, his last public commitment.
Willoughby said in a statement on her Instagram story on Saturday night: “It’s taken time to process yesterday’s news. When reports of this relationship first surfaced, I asked Phil directly if this was true and was told it was not. It’s been very hurtful to now find out that this was a lie.”
Following Schofield’s confession, a spokesperson for ITV said on Friday the broadcaster was “deeply disappointed” by the “admissions of deceit”.
“The relationships we have with those we work with are based on trust,” they added.
“Phillip made assurances to us which he now acknowledges were untrue and we feel badly let down.”
In his statement, Schofield apologised for lying about the relationship.
“The first thing I want to say is: I am deeply sorry for having lied to them (the Daily Mail), and to many others about a relationship that I had with someone working on This Morning,” he said.
“I did have a consensual on-off relationship with a younger male colleague at This Morning.”
He added that “contrary to speculation” the relationship was “not illegal”.
He said: “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 denied that a superinjunction had been issued by him, or on his behalf, regarding the relationship.
“When I chose to come out I did so entirely for my own wellbeing,” he said.
“Nobody ‘forced’ me out. Neither I nor anyone else, to my knowledge, has ever issued an injunction, super or otherwise, about my relationship with this colleague, he was never moved on or sacked by or because of me.
“In an effort to protect my ex-colleague I haven’t been truthful about the relationship. But my recent, unrelated, departure from This Morning fuelled speculation and raised questions which have been impacting him, so for his sake it is important for me to be honest now.”
Talent agency YMU said it has “parted company” with Schofield “with immediate effect”.
The revelations come after Schofield faced months of controversy including reports of a rift with his long-time co-host Willoughby, his brother’s sex abuse trial and a furore over his visit to the late Queen’s lying-in-state.
Schofield married Stephanie Lowe in 1993 and they have two grown-up daughters together, Ruby and Molly.
After he came out in February 2020, in an emotional on-air chat with Willoughby, his wife told The Sun she supported his “brave step” and “always will” love him.
She also said: “Our family has also been so supportive and will help us going forward.” - PA