ITV boss Dame Carolyn McCall has been called to give evidence to a parliamentary committee to answer questions about the broadcaster’s approach to safeguarding and complaint handling following the departure of Phillip Schofield from This Morning.
The chief executive, who wrote a letter to Parliament on Wednesday in which she revealed the broadcaster had commissioned an external review in the wake of Schofield’s exit, would face questions from MPs on the This Morning row at a session of the Culture, Media and Sport committee on June 14.
Schofield, 61, resigned from the broadcaster last week and was dropped by his talent agency YMU after admitting to an “unwise but not illegal” affair with a younger male colleague.
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”, while the session on June 14 could see Dame Carolyn face questions from MPs on the This Morning row.
It comes a day after Dame Carolyn sent a letter to culture secretary Lucy Frazer, DCMS 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.
The 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’s relationship took place while the TV star was still married to wife Stephanie Lowe and before he came out publicly as gay.
In a statement on Friday last week, he said he was “deeply sorry” for lying about the “consensual on-off relationship” with a younger male colleague at This Morning, describing it as “unwise, but not illegal”.
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.