“Toxic working cultures” are allegedly rampant behind the scenes of ITV’s This Morning, a Tory MP has reported.
The House of Commons media committee has been overwhelmed with complaints from staff who predominantly work on This Morning, as well as some from the “wider ITV daytime team”, committee chair Caroline Dinenage wrote in a letter published on Wednesday (9 August).
Dinenage, who is also minister for digital and culture, said that allegations brought by a “large number” of employees claim that bullying, discrimination and harassment are rife.
“These individuals speak with great pride about working at ITV and are hugely positive about many of their colleagues,” Dinenage said, addressing ITV boss Carolyn McCall.
“However, they also raise claims of toxic working cultures, bullying, discrimination, and harassment.
“Some of the individuals who have contacted us have described how their decision to raise concerns within ITV has led to further bullying and discrimination, and in some cases having to leave the organisation with a settlement agreement.”
Dinenage said it was “easy to understand” why several former employees would not want to “relive their traumatic experiences” in raising concerns and expecting ITV to take them seriously.
In response to the Tory MP’s letter, McCall noted that ITV executives had “made clear” during a media select committee session in June that they were committed to enabling employees to report concerns.
Former ITV This Morning host Philip Schofield. (Getty)
MPs grilled McCall, managing director Kevin Lygo and general counsel Kyla Mullins as part of a committee meeting following This Morning host Philip Schofield’s exit from the show.
“We always take these seriously and will investigate and take whatever action is appropriate,” McCall said. “However, we are unable to do so if we cannot engage with those people.”
McCall questioned the decision by Dinenage to publish the letter “given [ITV’s] own concerns about the welfare of our staff,” she said.
“We have of course co-operated in every way and been clear that complaints are taken seriously.”
‘Inconsistency’ in Phillip Schofield exit, MPs claim
The complaints come amid controversy surrounding both the exit of Philip Schofield and accusations of “bullying” made against TV chef James Martin.
Schofield quit ITV after admitting to an “unwise but not illegal” affair with a young colleague.
Martin, best known for Saturday Kitchen Live, was reportedly the subject of complaints following the recording of his series James Martin’s Spanish Adventure.
Allegations include reducing crew members to tears in front of employees and schedules that would only afford them a few hours of sleep.
According to Deadline, which broke the story, complaints were also made about Martin’s behaviour in 2018.
Martin apologised for “any offence or upset caused” by the alleged instance of bullying.
The chef’s production company, Blue Marlin Television, acknowledged the complaints and said that “lessons have been learned.”
MPs have also accused ITV executives of being “inconsistent” regarding the reasoning behind Schofield’s exit from This Morning.
During the committee, ITV managing director, Kevin Lygo, claimed it was Schofield’s decision to step down, by MPs said the claim stood contrary to his statement in May, which said: “I understand ITV has decided the current situation can’t go on.”
In response, McCall said there was “no inconsistency” and that Schofield expressed a desire to leave This Morning and that Lygo was the “ultimate arbiter” of the decision.