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ITV investigated 'rumours of relationship' between Phillip Schofield and young employee - but pair 'repeatedly denied' affair

ITV has said it investigated "rumours of a relationship" between Phillip Schofield and a younger employee - but the pair "repeatedly denied" the affair.

The statement came after questions were raised over what network bosses knew about the conduct of the veteran broadcaster.

Fellow former This Morning presenter Eamonn Holmes had said Schofield was "not the only guilty party" and claimed top management "knew what sort of man he was".

Holmes spoke out after veteran broadcaster Schofield admitted having an "unwise, but not illegal" affair with a much younger male ITV employee while still married and lying about it.

Writing on Twitter, Holmes said: "Schofield has finally been caught out... But he's not the only guilty party. 4 high members of ITV management knew what sort of man he was."

Schofield quit the broadcaster on Friday.

His confession came in a statement published in the Daily Mail shortly before his agents, YMU, also revealed they were parting company with him with immediate effect.

In response to mounting pressure on the broadcaster, an ITV spokesperson said: "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."

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In another Twitter post, Holmes referred to how Schofield apparently lied to him and his wife, presenter Ruth Langsford.

He added: "Ruth and I deceived and lied to. One day I will tell the story. We had no issue with him being gay, only support.

"What transpired took us for fools. The man told us complete lies and we unfortunately believed him."

Separately, BBC presenter and former ITV newscaster Andrea Catherwood tweeted: "A lot more questions about who knew what when at ITV to be answered after this…"

Dermot O'Leary, who has been tipped to replace the former This Morning star said: "It's not appropriate for me to comment."

Schofield, 61, left the daytime show last week.

'It is now over'

In a statement on Friday, Schofield said he was "deeply sorry" for lying about the relationship.

He said: "I did have a consensual on-off relationship with a younger male colleague at This Morning.

"Contrary to speculation, whilst I met the man when he was a teenager and was asked to help him to get into television, it was only after he started to work on the show that it became more than just a friendship.

"That relationship was unwise, but not illegal. It is now over."

It is understood the younger colleague, who is not a public figure, did not want the relationship to be made public.

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Timeline of departure and rumours of rift with co-host Holly
Statements from presenter and his agents in full

The affair took place before Mr Schofield publicly came out as gay in 2020, and while he was still married to his wife Stephanie Lowe.

In a damning statement, his former agents YMU Group said "honesty and integrity" were core values of their business and that their relationships are "based entirely on trust".

Schofield's exit from This Morning came after weeks of rumours of a rift between him and his co-presenter Holly Willoughby.

Reports of behind-the-scenes problems between the pair surfaced after his brother Tim Schofield was convicted of child sex offences.