MP reveals 2021 email proof of Schofield concerns leaving ITV execs speechless
MP leaves ITV bosses speechless over email complaint
SNP MP John Nicholson ran rings around ITV’s top bosses in the House of Commons this morning, brandishing alleged evidence that undermined a key claim from one of its executives facing scrutiny.
Mr Nicholson probed ITV’s Managing Director for entertainment, Kevin Lygo, over whether he had ever been approached by senior management with concerns about presenters, editors, or the culture at This Morning.
Mr Lygo replied, “I don’t think any that I can recall, honestly”, before Mr Nicholson revealed the copy of an email purporting to show concerns about Philip Schofield’s conduct was raised in October 2021.
The correspondence – allegedly sent from a member of Mr Lygo’s team to an ITV staff member – set out that at a meeting on Monday, October 4, 2021, the staff member: “referred to your concerns about the conduct of Philip Schofield and another colleague working on This Morning”.
The email from a close colleague of Mr Lygo’s continued: “I’m not able to share all the details, but I can find no evidence to suggest that Kevin Lygo failed to take action on the allegations that you have raised with him.”
“It’s not a question of him not being interested in the concerns. He is interested in the concerns, and he does take the allegations that you have raise seriously.”
Mr Nicholson said the email was just such an example of somebody who did contact senior ITV management asking to meet with them.
The email revelation left all three ITV bosses facing the MP’s Select Committee baffled, with Mr Lygo saying he would “need to check that”.
The SNP MP doubled down, asking whether “to the best of your recollection, you had no meetings with anybody where they talked about bullying culture or inappropriate behaviour with regard to Philip Schofield”.
Mr Lygo reiterated he was “pretty certain I would remember if they were talking about that”.
Multiple MPs openly questioned why the committee hearing had proved so high profile, with Tory MP Giles Watling saying “I really don’t understand why there’s such a media frenzy when we have war in Ukraine, starvation in Africa and India, and rail accidents etcetera”.
Labour MP Kevin Brennan added: “This is all very interesting – the whole thing’s fascinating – but I’m struggling to try and identify why this is all in the public interest, why we need to know all of this, and there are serious issues underlying all of this – I don’t want to trivialise it – but why is all of this in the public interest?”
ITV’s CEO Dame Carolyn McCall DBE answered that she believes the media scrutiny is largely because of ITV’s role as a Public Service Broadcaster, and states she doesn’t think the media company would have been called in before the MP committee were it not for their PSB status.
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Dame Carolyn caused confusion among MPs over her repeated use of the phrase “investigated” regarding ITV’s inquiries into Philip Schofield’s relationship with a young showrunner, while simultaneously denying any formal investigation.
She clarified: “We did investigate, but I wouldn’t call it an investigation”.
John Nicholson said she’d called their inquiries into Mr Schofield and the runner – named “Mr X” throughout the committee hearing – a review twice and an investigation once.
Dame Carolyn quickly intervened to say: “I’ve never called it an investigation… I might have said investigated. We did investigate but I wouldn’t call it an investigation because that gives it a formality and structure that because of the rumours and time period it didn’t have”.
Dame Carolyn said she believes she should retain her job in light of the brouhaha.
The CMS committee chair, Dame Caroline Dinenage, thanked all three of the ITV executives for appearing before MPs and said she hopes “you all, and everyone watching this, goes away with a very strong message that today has not been about Philip Schofield, it has not been about Person X, it has been about ITV as an employer and as an institution.
“I would like to hope that some of the answers you have given today will provide some form of reassurance to people working for ITV and those who, through no fault of their own, have left the organisation and that the issues they have raised have been taken seriously.
“I am slightly concerned that you’re waiting for the results of the investigation before taking any action to improve the working environment – there’s clearly some work for ITV to do here to rebuild trust with us and its staff and viewers.”
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