ITV’s chief executive has been asked to attend a grilling by MPs amid the saga over Phillip Schofield’s exit from This Morning.
Dame Carolyn McCall has been invited to appear before cross-party MPs on the Culture, Media and Sport Committee on June 14 to discuss the broadcaster’s approach to safeguarding and complaint handling.
It comes as questions continue to be asked following Schofield’s resignation from ITV.
Dame Carolyn wrote a letter to Parliament yesterday in which she revealed the broadcaster had commissioned an external review.
Committee chair Dame Caroline Dinenage, who was one of the addressees of Wednesday’s letter, said in a written response on Thursday: “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.”
Following reports Dame Carolyn was asked to appear at a parliamentary session next week, it has been confirmed the session on June 6 previously scheduled with ITV and other commercial public service broadcasters will focus on “its intended purpose of scrutinising the Government’s draft Media Bill”.
It comes a day after Dame Carolyn sent a letter to culture secretary Lucy Frazer, committee chair Dame Caroline and Ofcom’s chief executive Dame Melanie Dawes, to confirm ITV had instructed barrister Jane Mulcahy KC of Blackstone Chambers to carry out an external review of the facts following Schofield’s departure.
Schofield announced he was stepping down from This Morning on May 20 following intense speculation about the state of his relationship with co-host Holly Willoughby.
After leaving the show, the 61-year-old admitted to an “unwise but not illegal” affair with a much younger male colleague and quit ITV on May 26.
The relationship took place while the TV star was still married to wife Stephanie Lowe and before he came out publicly as gay.
Schofield was dropped by his talent agency YMU on the same day.
Amid questions over what ITV bosses knew, the broadcaster last week insisted it 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.
It comes after Eamonn Holmes, who previously presented This Morning on Fridays with wife Ruth Langsford, alleged there was a “total cover-up” on This Morning over Schofield’s affair.
He told GB News earlier this week: “Those in authority had to know what was going on and they thought they would dodge a bullet with this, which they do, and they do constantly, because with Schofield talking about those who speak out against him, namely me, Amanda Holden and you (Dan Wootton), you’ll be included in the toxicity that goes on. Dr Ranj, of course, as well.
“And you simply sit there and think, ‘No, mate. You’ve had it all your way for too long’.”
Since Schofield’s resignation, This Morning has been plagued by allegations of “toxicity”.
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.