Employees on ITV’s This Morning show have told Parliament they faced “further bullying and discrimination” after raising concerns of toxicity and harassment with the broadcaster.
In June, ITV chief executive Dame Carolyn McCall faced questions from MPs about former host Phillip Schofield’s exit from the show amid allegations that the programme was fostering a bullying culture that had been described as toxic.
In correspondence published on Wednesday, Dame Caroline Dinenage, chairwoman of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee, told Dame Carolyn that a group of This Morning employees past and present had since raised similar claims to Parliament.
In the letter dated July 24, Dame Caroline wrote: “In the month that has passed since your appearance before the committee, we have been contacted by a large number of individuals who have identified themselves as currently working or previously having worked on This Morning or as part of the wider ITV Daytime team.
“These individuals speak with great pride about working at ITV and are hugely positive about many of their colleagues.
“However, they also raise claims of toxic working cultures, bullying, discrimination and harassment.
“Some of those individuals who have contacted us have described how their decision to raise concerns within ITV has led to further bullying and discrimination, and in some cases having to leave the organisation with a settlement agreement.”
Dame Caroline said it is “easy to understand” why the individuals left ITV and “do not wish to relive their traumatic experiences”, as well as believing ITV will not take them seriously.
In a response, Dame Carolyn asked the parliamentary committee to “encourage individuals to contact ITV via our reporting line SafeCall” through which reports can be made confidentially or anonymously.
Alternatively individuals can contact Jane Mulcahy KC who is leading an external review of the facts after Schofield’s exit, which is expected to be completed in September, Dame Carolyn said.
She continued: “As we made clear to you and the committee, we are absolutely committed to enabling people to raise any issues or complaints they may have about working at ITV.
“We always take these seriously and will investigate and take whatever action is appropriate. However, we are unable to do so if we cannot engage with those people.”
In the correspondence, MPs accused ITV managing director Kevin Lygo of being “inconsistent” in his explanation about who decided 61-year-old Schofield should leave This Morning, after he admitted to an “unwise but not illegal” affair with a younger male colleague on the show.
In evidence to MPs in June, Mr Lygo suggested Schofield wanted to step down, but a statement on May 20 from the presenter said: “I understand ITV has decided the current situation can’t go on.”
In her response, Dame Carolyn insisted there was “no inconsistency”, writing: “As made clear, Mr Schofield expressed a desire to leave This Morning but Kevin Lygo was the ultimate arbiter of such issues – following discussions with everyone involved.”
Lastly, Dame Caroline also referenced Dame Carolyn’s “contradictory” evidence to MPs in June which suggested This Morning had been the subject of two complaints in five years.
The chairwoman wrote: “We have been contacted by current and former employees who are personally aware of multiple cases, and so appear to contradict your evidence that there have been only two complaints.
“It would, therefore, be helpful for us to understand the way in which complaints, as counted in your figures, are required to be made, and whether this excludes complaints or concerns being raised in other ways, such as with line managers.”
Dame Caroline said the committee is concerned “repeatedly relying” on the two-complaint statistic rather than acknowledging other evidence – particularly given the reluctance of individuals to come forward – “risks ITV being unwilling or unable to examine whether there are cultural issues within This Morning, ITV Daytime and the wider organisation that are not being dealt with”.
Published: by Radio NewsHub