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Martin Frizell, the Editor of embattled ITV daytime show This Morning, has been rebuked by his employer for “extremely ill-judged” remarks about eggplants when questioned over the Phillip Schofield scandal.
Magnus Brooke, ITV’s Director of Strategy, Policy and Regulation, said the commercial broadcaster would not endorse comments made by Frizell to a journalist on Monday.
Frizell was questioned on his doorstep by a Sky News reporter about allegations of a toxic work environment on This Morning. “I tell you what’s toxic,” he replied. “[What] I’ve always found toxic is aubergine. Do you like aubergine?”
Brooke was asked about the incident during an evidence session held by UK Parliament’s influential Culture, Media, and Sport Committee.
Lawmaker John Nicolson said Frizell’s remarks were “surreal and bizarre” and could have been interpreted as being “outrageously dismissive and flippant” by those who have raised concerns about their experience working on This Morning.
Brooke responded: “It was extremely ill-judged to say what he did. But I can reassure you on behalf of ITV that we do take all of these allegations very seriously, precisely because we do have a culture in which people’s conduct matters enormously.”
Nicolson asked if Frizell’s job was safe, to which Brooke said it was “not a question for me.” Brooke’s boss, ITV CEO Carolyn McCall, is due to be grilled by the Culture, Media, and Sport Committee over the Schofield saga next week.
Schofield stepped down from This Morning last month and later admitted to having a sexual relationship with a young male runner. The presenter said in an interview with the BBC last week that he felt suicidal as a result of the scandal, which was his “biggest sorriest secret.” He denied allegations that he groomed the runner, whom he first met at the age of 15 while opening a theatre school.
Brooke told the Culture, Media, and Sport Committee: “There’s a very sophisticated and significant system of safeguarding and duty of care at ITV.”