Phillip Schofield to continue to host This Morning after list blunder

ITV director of television Peter Fincham rules presenter fit to continue despite legal letter to ITV from Lord McAlpine

The ITV director of television has said that Phillip Schofield will continue presenting This Morning, despite being reprimanded for handing David Cameron a list of Conservative politicians allegedly linked to child sex abuse live on air.

Peter Fincham, speaking to ITV News, confirmed late on Thursday that ITV had received a legal letter from Lord McAlpine about the This Morning incident last week.

Fincham said the broadcaster would be responding quickly to McAlpine's letter and another from John Whittingdale, the Tory MP and chairman of the Commons culture, media and sport select committee, asking him if he thinks the broadcast "represents responsible journalism in the public interest".

Fincham said he had spoken to Schofield and left him in doubt about the wrong and misguided incident last Thursday, in which he handed the prime minister a list of Tory politicians allegedly linked to child sex abuse, which he said he had found after three minutes of online research.

However, Fincham said Schofield, who has been subject to "appropriate disciplinary action" along with four This Morning production staff, would remain on air.

"The way that This Morning interviewed the prime minister last Thursday, or that portion of the interview, was wrong. It was misguided," Fincham said.

"In live television, all sorts of things can happen. That doesn't mean they should happen," he added. "I'm not happy that this happened. We have editorial processes and checks in place and to be honest with you they weren't followed."

Fincham declined to discuss the disciplinary action that had been taken against Schofield and others.

"I've discussed that with him and I think he's under no illusions that this was a lapse in ITV journalism. This is something we shouldn't have done," he said.

He added that ITV had moved fast to sort out the problem, concluding an investigation within a week and taking "quick and decisive" action. He said he was confident this sort of thing would not happen again.

Ofcom is investigating This Morning to see whether the programme breached broadcasting rules by failing to provide McAlpine a right of reply before airing the allegation incorrectly linking the former Conservative party treasurer to child abuse.

The show did not name McAlpine, but Schofield's This Morning interview with Cameron led to the former Tory party treasurer's name being linked to the allegations online.

McAlpine's solicitor, Andrew Reid, told Radio 4's The World at One on Thursday that he would be taking legal action against ITV and This Morning.

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Jason Deans

The GuardianTramp

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