Holly Willoughby claims former Kiwi TV star Phillip Schofield lied to her over affair with younger employee

UK television presenter Holly Willoughby has hit out at former New Zealand TV star Phillip Schofield claiming he lied to her about his affair with a young ITV employee.

The pair have presented the ITV daytime show This Morning together for 14 years until Schofield's exit last week.

Schofield admitted on Friday (UK time) the relationship with his younger colleague while still married. 

The ex-This Morning host said the relationship with his junior colleague was "unwise but not illegal".

Willoughby took to Instagram to write a short statement saying it was "very hurtful" to find out her former co-host had lied to her about the affair. 

"It's taken time to process yesterday's news. When reports of this relationship first surfaced, I asked Phil directly if this was true and was told it was not," she said. 

"It's been very hurtful to now find out that this was a lie."  

How the saga started

The saga started when left his role at This Morning last week after reports of a rift with Willoughby.

But a few days later, Schofield admitted to lying to ITV, his agent, his lawyer and his family about the on-off affair with a man reportedly 30 years his junior, who was a teenager when they first met.

"Contrary to speculation, whilst I met the man when he was a teenager and was asked to help him to get into television," Schofield said in a statement to the Daily Mail UK. 

"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.

"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."

He also added he was "so, very, very sorry" for being unfaithful to his wife Stephanie Lowe 

An ITV spokesperson said they were "deeply disappointed by the admissions of deceit" made by Schofield and confirmed it had cut all ties with the host.

Phillip Schofield.
Phillip Schofield. Photo credit: Getty Images

The affair was an "open secret" 

Questions have now been raised about how the affair went unnoticed for so long, with ITV's chief executive Carolyn McCall coming under increasing pressure to explain.

Reports have emerged that the affiar was an "open secret" but ITV said it had investigated the allegations "several times" from early 2020 but didn't find any evidence. 

"Both parties were questioned and both categorically and repeatedly denied the rumours, as did Phillip's then agency YMU," an ITV spokesman said. 

"In addition, ITV spoke to a number of people who worked on This Morning and were not provided with, and did not find, any evidence of a relationship beyond hearsay and rumour." 

Eamonn Holmes, who shared presenting duties on the flagship daytime show for 15 years, is among those criticising ITV and Schofield.

Holmes said on Twitter Schofield had "lied" and "deceived" him and his wife Ruth Langsford and that he had "finally been caught out".

"Ruth and I deceived and lied to.  One day I will tell the story. We had no issue with him being Gay,  only support.  What transpired took us for fools. The man told us complete lies and we unfortunately believed him," Holmes said on Twitter.

"Schofield has finally been caught out ... But he's not the only guilty party. 4 high members of Itv management knew what sort of man he was ...and NEVER once took action to prevent him controlling or taking advantage of his position over young people."

Martin Daubney, a This Morning contributor for six years from 2013, told GB News he was "surprised" the affair wasn't revealed earlier.

"I considered myself close to Phil and Holly and all I will say is that these rumours have been long going around and the only thing I'm surprised about is that it's taken so long for it to come out. This story has much, much more legs."

A This Morning insider said the affair was an "open secret" and ITV had "questions to answer". 

"It was an open secret - if they [executives] didn't know about the affair, why was he moved?" said a This Morning insider.  "Surely ITV has questions to answer."

In a column for the Daily Mail Online, Kiwi journalist for GB News Dan Wootton - who is a former ITV employee - said he told the broadcast about the affair in 2019 and urged them to investigate. 

"They dismissed it as 'malicious gossip'. What followed looks like nothing short of a cover-up," Wootton said.

Former ITV presenter and Cabinet minister Esther McVey predicted McCall - who has led the broadcast since 2018 - would be gone "in a matter of days".