The ambushing of the Prime Minister with the names of rumoured Tory paedophiles by the ITV presenter Phillip Schofield has generated more than 100 viewer complaints to Ofcom.
The television watchdog said it would consider whether to launch an investigation into the incident on Thursday’s edition of This Morning, which has been condemned by politicians of all parties. Schofield, who has apologised for what he claims was a misjudged camera angle that allowed some viewers to glimpse the list of names, did not present the popular daytime show today.
It was instead hosted by Friday regulars Eamonn Holmes and his wife, Ruth Langsford, who reiterated Mr Schofield’s apology, saying: “The programme was not accusing anyone of anything.” ITV said that neither Schofield nor any other members of production staff had been disciplined over the confrontation that was labelled an “outrageous stunt” by Conservative MPs.
The broadcasting regulator has 15 days to consider whether to take action on the matter.
An Ofcom spokesman said: “We can confirm that we have received complaints about this issue, which we are assessing. No decision has been made at this stage to investigate.”
Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper also criticised the exchange, which happened when David Cameron was invited on to the sofa to discuss a new dementia policy.
Ms Cooper told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme yesterday: “Clearly the Prime Minister can’t be expected to comment on individuals on live television. You can’t have this being driven by internet frenzies. What you need is proper criminal investigations to get to the truth.” Mr Cameron warned that internet speculation risked creating a witch-hunt that could be directed against gay people. Yesterday he described the exchange as “not sensible”.
Mr Cameron said: “It is not right to hand over a piece of paper which has on it a few names you have quickly scrabbled off the internet.
“Effectively, you are casting lots of aspersions about lots of people without any evidence.”
Among those to complain to Ofcom was Conservative MP Stuart Andrew, who was a councillor in Wrexham at the time of the initial inquiries into child-abuse allegations.
In his letter, the MP for Pudsey wrote: “Many victims may feel very frightened and anxious about coming forward with any evidence, and they need to know that they will be heard and not be sensationalised.”