Dan Wootton's shock new claim about ITV and Phillip Schofield's ...
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 18: Phillip Schofield seen at the ITV Studios on June 18, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by HGL/GC Images)
Shocking new details of the scandal engulfing Phillip Schofield have not only revealed how old his lover was when they met but also suggest the embattled star’s employer knew about his affair with the employee for years before it was investigated.
Following news he had an affair with a much younger employee, the Mail on Sunday has alleged the two met after the veteran TV presenter gave a talk at a theatre school, placing the boy at 15 years old and Schofield in his 40s. The affair did not begin then.
At the time, the then-schoolboy reportedly asked Schofield for a job, resulting in the former This Morning co-host arranging an interview for him. Following the interview, the boy was employed as an ITV production assistant when he turned 18.
The UK news outlet reported the pair had an “ill-advised” friendship, with it later transpiring into an affair that didn’t start until “some time” after the boy was employed and claimed the 61-year-old former TV star only came clean about the affair because the younger man had unexpectedly confessed all to his lawyers.
It comes after suggestions that ITV - the broadcast network of This Morning which was co-hosted by Schofield up until last week - knew about the affair long before it was investigated.
In an opinion piece published on Daily Mail this morning, UK-based New Zealand journalist Dan Wootton has admitted he and other media stars knew about Schofield’s affair in 2019 when he worked at ITV as a daytime presenter.
Wootton wrote that in November 2019, he had recently left his role as a showbiz presenter on ITV’s The Lorraine show, noting his departure was “complicated”. He went on to say, he was then offered a new contract for 12 months however there were two conditions attached that he claims he “wasn’t prepared to accept”.
“First: Any form of reporting on the then developing Phillip Schofield scandal will get you immediately taken off air (he’d already tried to have me sacked multiple times, by this point),” he wrote.
Adding, “Second: I would have to stop any negative commentary about the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Again, that was a non-negotiable for me, given within two months I would break the story of Megxit and all the ramifications that followed for the Royal Family.”
The Kiwi journalist continued to say he declined the offer and walked out of ITV’s “soulless offices” where he continued to report on the “growing civil war at This Morning”.
Following his departure, Wootton continued talking to his friends in the industry, finding out that the “happy-go-lucky and ambitious lad” Schofield has admitted to having an affair with despite being more than 30 years his junior, turned into a “clearly troubled” young man.
After Schofield’s relationship with the youngster “soured” he was moved on from This Morning to Loose Women with many of the presenters “livid” about the situation, “We shouldn’t be having to deal with Phillip’s messed up situation. We love (the young worker) but he’s very troubled now. What if he can’t cope?” One unnamed presenter reportedly told Wootton.
He noted that while working as executive editor of The Sun, he spoke to eight ITV stars who raised concerns about Schofield’s “toxic behaviour, specifically the inappropriate relationship with the man,” however, after Wootton made a call to ITV’s Group Corporate Affairs and Communications Director Paul Moore, it was made clear the broadcaster had no intention of investigating the information being presented to them.
At the time, an ITV spokeswoman dismissed Wootton’s 2019 story, stating, “’It’s deeply disappointing and unfair for Phillip to be the target of this sort of malicious gossip.
“Phillip is a much respected broadcaster and colleague and this is absolutely not a description of This Morning that we recognise.”
Wootton added, “as we know now, this was not ‘malicious gossip’.”
ITV released a statement yesterday admitting it investigated allegations of Schofield’s affair with the younger employee as early as 2020.
The statement claimed it had questioned both Schofield and the younger man, but that both had “repeatedly denied” the rumours. Holly Willoughby also revealed today Schofield had lied to her about the affair.
“Further to our statement last night, 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.
“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.”
Wootton wrote in his Daily Mail op-ed, that the “rumours” were know much earlier and the young man had become a “non-negotiable” part of Schofield’s life, “with ITV cars ferrying him from the TV studios to the presenter’s apartment.”
The UK based Kiwi journalist also claimed there was an altercation between Schofield, the young man and Holly Willoughby at the National Television Awards on January 28, 2020 in which a senior ITV staff member witnessed.
Daily Mail has since reported the altercation came after the young man was heard “declaring his love for Phil”.
One week later, on the This Morning sofa, Schofield came out as gay and the tension between him and Willoughby was largely overshadowed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Wootton extended his sorrow for the young man in his article adding, “there remains a host of deeply uncomfortable questions for ITV executives about whether they prioritised protecting the reputation of one of their most bankable stars rather than doing what’s right.
“Not to mention their treatment of their young employee and whether they actively covered up an abuse of power.”
It comes after Esther McVey, the former cabinet minister and television host spoke to GB News where she compared the Schofield scandal to the phone hacking scandal at the now-defunct News of the World.
“People could lose their jobs over this, from the chief executives right the way down,” McVey said. “So will we see heads rolling and will we see this show go?”
“I would say that it’s a matter of days now for the chief executive there and other people because they’re going to have to draw a line. They’re going to have to say this is definitive.”
After news of Schofield’s departure from This Morning, it was claimed he had been offered a new prime-time ITV show, however the Telegraph has now reported the star will no longer work for them.