Phillip Schofield sorry for names blunder in Tory child sex abuse scandal

ITV presenter apologises for possibility that viewers saw list of politicians during David Cameron interview

ITV presenter Phillip Schofield has apologised after he handed David Cameron a list of Conservative politicians possibly involved in child sex abuse allegations that may have made the names identifiable to viewers.

Schofield made the blunder while handing the prime minister a list of names he had gathered from the internet on ITV1's This Morning on Thursday.

The prime minister declined to look at the list, warning that it could "turn into a sort of witch hunt, particularly against gay people".

Schofield later blamed a "misjudged camera angle" and said it was "never my intention" to identify anyone who was listed.

The media regulator Ofcom is now facing calls to investigate the programme after it was alleged that at least two names were visible on the document Schofield handed to Cameron. Ofcom is understood to have received fewer than 10 complaints about the incident by late on Thursday.

"If any viewer was able to identify anyone listed, I would like to apologise and stress that was never my intention," said Schofield.

"I was not accusing anyone of anything and it is essential that it is understood that I would never be part of any kind of witch hunt.

"Unfortunately there may have been a misjudged camera angle for a split second as I showed the prime minister some information I had obtained from the internet.

"I asked for his reaction to give him the opportunity to make a point which he very clearly made about the dangers of any witch hunt."

Schofield, who was presenting the ITV1 show alongside Holly Willoughby, said it had taken him "about three minutes last night to continually find a list of the same names".

He told Cameron: "I have those names, there are those names on a piece of paper. You know the names on that piece of paper, will you be speaking to those people?"

Cameron responded by warning Schofield that there was a danger of that the outcry over alleged paedophiles could turn into a witch hunt, "particularly about people who are gay".

"I am worried about the sort of thing you are doing right now, giving me a list of names you've taken off the internet."

The Conservative MP Rob Wilson wrote to Ofcom chief executive Ed Richards urging him to investigate whether This Morning breached the broadcasting code "when Mr Schofield revealed the names of certain individuals in connection with allegations of child abuse and paedophilia against Conservative politicians".

Under Ofcom's code, broadcasters are obliged to seek a response from individuals who are the subject of significant criticism or allegations of wrongdoing.

An ITV spokesperson said: "It is extremely regrettable that names may have been very briefly visible as a result of a misjudged camera angle, although most viewers would not have been able to read the list. As Phillip has stressed, the programme was not accusing anyone of anything."

The programme had not been uploaded to ITV's online catch-up service, ITV Player, on Thursday evening.

A spokesman for Ofcom said the regulator would assess the complaints and decide whether to launch a formal investigation.


John Plunkett and Josh Halliday

The GuardianTramp

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