The editor of ITV’s This Morning has further fuelled the row raging over the culture behind the scenes at the show, accusing some of those who have spoken out recently of seeking to settle scores, even as he called for some respite for his staff.
The programme has been at the centre of weeks of media attention that started with reports about a rift between its longstanding presenting team.
It took on a new dimension as it emerged that Phillip Schofield had had an affair with a substantially younger colleague, and lied about it.
And it evolved into a wider discussion about the culture among its staff after former members described a “toxic” working environment.
On Saturday, This Morning’s editor, Martin Frizell, told Sky News to “read between the lines” amid the claims, adding: “I think there’s some scores being settled.”
He spoke after the show’s former resident doctor Dr Ranj Singh said he raised concerns about “bullying and discrimination” on the show two years ago, when he worked there, and afterwards felt as if he was “managed out” for whistleblowing.
Eamonn Holmes, who previously presented This Morning on Fridays with his wife, Ruth Langsford, until 2020, had earlier accused Schofield of “toxicity” in an interview with GB News.
This Morning staff are already dealing with the effects of Schofield’s departure, as well as the impending external review of how it was handled.
“All I want to say is, I am working with a fantastic team of mainly women, many mums, a lot of them concerned for their jobs, although we’ve told them not to be,” Frizell told Sky.
“But this is the 23rd day now of being on the front page and it’s tiring, they worked all through Covid brilliantly, they worked all through this putting a programme out … and I just think they need a bit of respite now.”
On Wednesday, ITV’s chief executive, Carolyn McCall, confirmed the broadcaster had instructed barrister Jane Mulcahy KC of Blackstone Chambers to carry out an external review of the facts.
Frizell said he was not concerned about what the external review may reveal, saying: “We’re looking forward to speaking to the KC, she’s very, very learned. She’ll get to the bottom [of it]. If there are questions to be answered, I’m sure she will find those answers.”
McCall has also been called to a parliamentary committee on 14 June to answer questions about the broadcaster’s approach to safeguarding and complaint handling after Schofield’s exit.
The former presenter Schofield has said he was afraid to leave the house and feared he would be spat on in the street.
He told the Sun: “I don’t have any spirit. My friends tell me ‘It will get better.’ It won’t. Not now. Not this one. I am getting by hour by hour. I have got my girls [his daughters] and my friends.”
He has previously said he “lost everything” after admitting to the affair and lying about it, and that the fallout had had a “catastrophic effect” on his mind during a broadcast interview with the BBC.