Ex-ITV presenter hounded like a murderer or rapist
He lied. That’s wrong but it is not a crime
London – 3 June 2023
“The trashing of Philip Schofield has more than a whiff of homophobia. Anti-gay prejudice is explicit on social media and implicit in much of the national media,” said human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, Director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation.
“The age gap between Schofield and the young man has created far more opprobrium than similar large age differences between heterosexual couples.
“Boris Johnson was 23 years older than Carrie Symonds and in a position of authority over her. Yet there was no fuss over their relationship or accusations that Johnson had abused his power position.
“Equally, the relationships with much younger women by Leonardo Di Caprio, Elvis Presley, Al Pacino and Peter Stringfellow provoked much less uproar. There was no equal furore over Cheryl, who met Liam Payne when he was 14 or over Brigette Macron who is 24 years older than Emmanuel. They met when she was a teacher and he was her student aged 15.
“There are blatant homophobic double standards about Schofield’s same-sex relationship.
“Adults must never have sex with children. That is abhorrent and totally wrong. But Philip Schofield’s younger partner was not a child. He was 20 years old when they began a consenting sexual relationship. The young man has made no complaint against Schofield. Yet people claim, without evidence, that he must have been abused. That is speculation and presumption, not fact.
“Schofield has not committed a crime. He lied to his employer and work colleagues and that is wrong but it is not a criminal offence. It is a matter between Schofield and his fellow employees, agents and bosses at ITV. It’s nobody else’s business.
“Moreover, millions of people lie, for good and bad reasons. None are subjected to the scrutiny, condemnation and vilification being heaped on Schofield.
“There may be understandable reasons why Schofield lied about his gay relationship. He was closeted and struggling with his homosexuality. He did not want people to know about it, especially his family. Perhaps he lied for the honourable reason of protecting the young man and to spare his wife the shock of discovering that her husband was gay and having an affair? Lying is wrong but maybe he lied for ‘commendable’ reasons – to save hurting others?
“Critics say Schofield abused his power and position of authority. However, no one knows that the relationship was abusive. It is an assumption, without evidence. The young man already had a secure job on the ITV This Morning show when the brief relationship began. So there is no suggestion that the young person was lured into sex in order to get a job.
“Hundreds of thousands of people have had workplace flings. Why is Schofield being singled out?
“Schofield says he did not groom the young man. If he did, that would be wrong. However, until there is evidence to the contrary, there is no reason to not accept his word. Having been caught out lying about the relationship, unless he is very stupid, I doubt Schofield would lie again. I could be wrong. But for me, a person is innocent until proven guilty.
“In my late teens, I had a relationship with an older person who was my senior at work. I was not groomed, exploited or abused. We remain life-long best friends. I resent the suggestion that such power imbalance relationships are automatically abusive and wrong. Some might be and that is wrong. Others, like mine, were not.
“None of us know who initiated the relationship and their motives. Nor do we know whether the power imbalance between Schofield and the young man was abusive. Unless there is evidence of abuse, we should not rush to judgement.
“Let persons who have never lied or had extra-marital affairs, cast the first stone. The rest should get off their high horse and cast aside their hypocrisy.
“As for the future of Philip Schofield: we all make mistakes. He’s apologised. Doesn’t everyone deserve a second chance? I believe in redemption – the possibility that those who err and say sorry can be forgiven.
“I am not a great fan of Schofield’s brand of TV but my programming tastes are irrelevant. In due course, I hope Schofield can return to television a chastened, better man,” said Mr Tatchell.