Receive free Media updates
We’ll send you a myFT Daily Digest email rounding up the latest Media news every morning.
Broadcaster ITV faces claims over “toxic working cultures, bullying, discrimination and harassment”, according to MPs contacted by former and current staff.
MPs on the House of Commons’ culture, media and sport committee on Wednesday published correspondence following a hearing in which they questioned ITV boss Carolyn McCall about her handling of presenter Phillip Schofield’s exit from This Morning.
Schofield resigned from the daytime TV show in May after admitting to an affair with a younger colleague.
In a letter to McCall, committee chair Caroline Dinenage said the MPs had been contacted by a “large number of individuals” who had identified themselves as current or former staff on This Morning or the wider ITV Daytime team.
The individuals spoke with “great pride” about working at ITV and were “hugely positive” about many of their colleagues, according to the letter. But they also raised “claims of toxic working cultures, bullying, discrimination and harassment”.
Some of those who contacted the MPs described how their decision to raise concerns within ITV led to further bullying and discrimination, she said, and in some cases having to leave the organisation with a settlement agreement.
Dinenage said ITV’s evidence highlighted that This Morning had been the subject of only two internal complaints in five years. But, she added, the individuals had claimed they were “personally aware of multiple cases, and so appear to contradict your evidence that there have been only two complaints”.
Dinenage also called for an update on what action ITV had taken to ensure it had a “professional and welcoming workplace”.
In a letter in response, McCall said MPs should continue to encourage people to contact ITV through its reporting service, which allows complaints to be made confidentially and anonymously.
ITV has already asked Jane Mulcahy KC to lead a review of how the network handled the relationship between Schofield and the colleague.
McCall said individuals may wish to contact Mulcahy directly and that her investigation was expected to conclude in September.
“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,” she added.
Dinenage also said in her letter that the accounts given at the hearing about why Scofield left were inconsistent.
In response, McCall said: “There is no inconsistency . . . as made clear, Mr Schofield expressed a desire to leave This Morning but Kevin Lygo [managing director of media and entertainment] was the ultimate arbiter of such issues — following discussions with everyone involved.”
The committee also published letters relating to the handling and coverage of the Huw Edwards case by the Sun newspaper and the BBC.
BBC acting chair Dame Elan Closs Stephens said in a letter to Dinenage: “I want to assure you that the BBC board understands how serious these matters are and we will continue to prioritise our duty of care to both staff and members of the public who raise complaints.”