Just days after being ‘let go’ from his job as co-host of ITV’s This Morning, Phillip Schofield admitted he had an affair with a younger male ITV employee while he was still married to his wife.
This, frankly, is what everyone was expected to hear. Well, for the most part. When we wrote our piece about the fallout between Schofield and his former colleague Holly Willoughby, we had to carefully tread around the reason why the formerly close pair had fallen out. It was a Twitter open secret, as well as one swirling around the industry for years. But hey, we don’t like being sued, so we were tip-toeing around the elephant in that room. After Schofield left one of the biggest jobs in British TV so abruptly, people got the sense that something was about to be announced. Schofield is now releasing a statement through the right-wing tabloid The Daily Mail about the affair he had with a much younger employee.
Here is the full statement:
‘“I am making this statement via the Daily Mail to whom I have already apologised personally for misleading, through my lawyer who I also misled, about a story which they wanted to write about me a few days ago.
“The first thing I want to say is: I am deeply sorry for having lied to them, and to many others about a relationship that I had with someone working on This Morning. 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.
“When I chose to come out I did so entirely for my own wellbeing. Nobody ‘forced’ me out. Neither I nor anyone else, to my knowledge, has ever issued an injunction, super or otherwise, about my relationship with this colleague, he was never moved on or sacked by or because of me.
“In an effort to protect my ex-colleague I haven’t been truthful about the relationship. But my recent, unrelated, departure from This Morning fuelled speculation and raised questions which have been impacting him, so for his sake it is important for me to be honest now.
“I am painfully conscious that I have lied to my employers at ITV, to my colleagues and friends, to my agents, to the media and therefore the public and most importantly of all to my family. I am so very, very sorry, as I am for having been unfaithful to my wife.
“I have therefore decided to step down from the British Soap Awards, my last public commitment, and am resigning from ITV with immediate effect expressing my immense gratitude to them for all the amazing opportunities that they have given me. I will reflect on my very bad judgement in both participating in the relationship and then lying about it.
“To protect his privacy, I am not naming this individual and my deepest wish is that both he and his family can now move on with their lives free from further intrusion, and that this statement will enable them to do so. I ask the media now to respect their privacy. They have done nothing wrong, and I ask that their privacy should be respected.”’
There’s just something about the phrase ‘unwise but not illegal’ that makes me really cringe, you know?
This statement is the definition of ‘covering one’s whole arse’ and everyone knows it. The emphasis on the unnamed employee’s age is notable, both in terms of him admitting when the affair took place and that he knew him when he was an adolescent. He also denies that he took out a super-injunction on the story, which many people assumed since the story was kept out of the press for years. This is, if nothing else, a keen reminder of how tough the libel laws are in the UK.
When Schofield came out as gay live on This Morning, he talked a lot about the love and admiration he had for his then-wife, and it now seems that he wasn’t fully honest with her on a lot of things. Yikes. Again, I can’t dive too much into speculation and the sheer volume of rumours that followed Schofield for years, but this statement is clearly an attempt to draw a line in the sand. It was improper but not as scandalous as assumed, he says. He lost focus and had a consensual workplace affair. Embarrassing but not crossing the line. Unwise but not illegal. That’s a tough thing to sell to a public already against you for admitting you knew that your own brother was a child abuser.
So, now he’s out of ITV for good. Holly Willoughby’s team certainly laid the ground-work for the pair’s personal and professional separation. We already saw headlines of ‘sources’ close to Schofield saying he’d been hung out to dry, which didn’t exactly land with UK audiences. For all intents and purposes, his career is over. ITV will be hoping the matter is now closed. Are such matters ever truly finished? I doubt it…