ITV has published the findings of an external inquiry into Philip Schofield’s affair with a PA on This Morning.
Jane Mulcahy KC was appointed to look into the broadcaster’s handling of the rumours related to the relationship between Schofield and “Person X” – a member of the This Morning production team. The review also examined complaints by employee and freelancers working on the show and whether ITV’s response was “appropriate and adequate.”
The report acknowledged that this was not a “statutory inquiry” so Mulcahy couldn’t compel people to cooperate, however, a total of 55 interviews took place, with 48 people (7 were spoken to twice).
Two people refused to cooperate, including Schofield and “Person X” (PX). Schofield (referred to as PS in the inquiry) issued a letter through his solicitor saying he “‘reluctantly decline[d]” to take part because of the risk to his mental health, which “has since deteriorated.”
PX also send a letter through his own solicitors stating “he wanted to move on with his life and was not prepared to assist with this Review.”
The review found that ITV management had made “considerable efforts to determine the truth about an alleged relationship between PS and PX following on from the publication of a story in The Sun newspaper in early December 2019. However, in the face of the denials of the individuals involved, ITV was unable to uncover the relevant evidence until PS’s admission in late May 2023.”
“It is clear that PS’s patronage assisted PX in the early days of his time at ITV but, beyond this, PX seems to have made his way on his own. I am satisfied that PX’s promotion to a role of production secretary on another Daytime programme had nothing to do with PS. Further, the only agreement between ITV and PX under which he was paid any settlement sum was a standard agreement ending the employment relationship dated 31 July 2021. After the story broke in 2019, ITV tried to do everything it could to help PX and provided significant additional support to him, even in May 2023 despite his employment having ended.”
According to the inquiry, only 1 person spoken to had any knowledge of the affair before May 2023.
“This leads me to emphasise in my recommendations below the importance of junior employees at ITV having the confidence to raise concerns to management in line with ITV’s “Speaking Up” policy,” wrote Mulcahy.
“I have no doubt that senior management are absolutely wedded to the importance of an open culture. But this culture is still not filtering down to junior employees, many of whom remain convinced that to speak out will have a detrimental impact on their careers.
“I also suggest, among other recommendations, that ITV take the opportunity to set out clear guidelines for its talent going forward to ensure that good behaviours are observed even by those who are household names.”
In relation to ITV’s approach to human resource complaints and concerns at This Morning and Daytime, 9 complaints were looked into and 8 “diverse concerns.”
“As a result, I find that ITV seeks – and succeeds in large part – in applying its policies and procedures appropriately to issues which are raised. ITV’s Disciplinary, Grievance and Freelance Complaints procedures also seem fit for purpose and to work well in practice. But, again, the complaints and disciplinary processes would function much more successfully if people were more confident to air their concerns in the first place.
“I also suggest, in response to issues raised by contributors to Daytime’s shows, that more open, direct and straightforward communication with freelance talent is desirable to ease working relationships going forward.”
The review recommended increased promoting its Speaking Up policy at “every level” and reviewing the structure of This Morning/Daytime “to ensure close and centralised control of both production and editorial.”
It also recommended centralising information on employees and promoting the keeping of written records.
ITV should also publish a “talent ‘charter’ setting out key standards ITV expects to be upheld” and put in place a process under which there is more open and direct communication with freelance talent.
In response ITV’s Chairman, Andy Cosslett, said:
“The KC review makes it clear that ITV’s management made considerable efforts to determine the truth about an alleged relationship between PS and Person X following media speculation. However, no concerns were reported and in the face of the denials of the individuals involved, ITV was unable to uncover the relevant evidence until PS’s admission in late May 2023.
“The KC makes it clear that the senior management of ITV and the senior team of This Morning were unaware of the nature of the relationship until PS’s statement in May 2023. We also asked the KC to review how we acted towards Person X and the KC has found that the company provided significant support to him.
“The second issue covered by the review is complaint handling. The KC finds that ITV’s Disciplinary, Grievance and Freelance Complaints procedures are fit for purpose and work well in practice. She finds that ITV seeks – and succeeds in large part – in applying its policies and procedures appropriately to issues which are raised.
“The KC informed the Board that for the period under review there was “no finding of a “toxic” culture and had there been one [she] would have said so.”
“The KC has, however, given ITV helpful direction as to how we can improve further, particularly around the ways in which concerns about behaviour are raised and responded to. We welcome her recommendations and are already acting on them.
“We are completely committed to creating an environment where everyone is treated with respect and feels able to give of their best.
“Our promise to those we work with is that where a complaint is made, or serious concerns raised, we will always investigate and if we find that something inappropriate has happened, we will take action.
“We will continue to develop our efforts to give junior colleagues the confidence to speak up if they have something to raise.
“I hope that the completion of this review allows the team at This Morning to get back to what they do so well – making a brilliant show that entertains and informs millions of viewers every week.”
ITV has pledged to:
• Continue to emphasise ITV’s anonymous and confidential reporting system SafeCall
• Reinforce speaking up with our colleague Ambassadors* and Network Groups* to drive confidence
• Increase regular, externally hosted focus groups, particularly with junior colleagues, to reinforce how to raise concerns and to speak up
• Internally promote positive action taken to resolve Speaking Up concerns to instil confidence among colleagues that where concerns are upheld, appropriate action is taken
• Centralise grievance and disciplinary related case handling to ensure a more consistent approach to all employee-related complaint handling
It would also review Daytime’s operations “to ensure the best possible coordination across and between production and editorial teams at all levels. This will include a review of HR support to ensure a holistic approach across Daytime. We have already increased the size of the HR team in Daytime.”
ITV said it had introduced a new HR system, so as to centralising information on employees and promote the keeping of written records.
On the “talent charter” and communication with freelancers it stated that its company wide Code of Conduct sets out the behaviours we expect of everyone we work with both in front of and behind the camera.
“In response to the KC’s recommendation, we intend to more clearly formalise ITV’s expectations of our on screen talent. This will apply to on screen talent working on productions made by third party producers for ITV as well as those of ITV Studios. We will use this as the basis for more open and direct communication with on screen talent.”