LETTER FROM LONDON
Every British household knows this fine face and helmet of white hair: for twenty years, Phillip Schofield, 61, has co-hosted “This Morning”, the popular morning show on the ITV channel, with presenter Holly Willoughby. In the columns of DailyMail May 26, this celebrity of the small screen confessed to having had a relationship with a young man also working on the set of “This Morning”. Phillip Schofield was still married at the time and admitted to having concealed this relationship despite the insistent questions of his colleagues and bosses. Confused in apologies, the former presenter of children’s programs on the BBC judged this love story ” misguided, but legal”her lover being consenting and being in his twenties at the time of the events.
The reaction, however, was brutal: for nearly a week of rather empty news – the Parliament of Westminster being on vacation – the star presenter was the subject of a deluge of negative subjects in the TV media and radio and the tabloids served him a rolling fire of “ones” with angry titles.
In question, the fact that he lied and that he could have abused his power by maintaining a relationship with a person much younger than him, aspiring to make television. Phillip Schofield, who resigned just before his revelations to the DailyMailwas let go by his agent, had to give up all his other commitments and lost his role as ambassador for the Prince Trust, the charity founded by the ex-Prince of Wales who became king, Charles III.
There is a before and after #metoo in British companies and administrations: abusive behavior (moral harassment), sexual touching or allusions, are absolutely no longer tolerated, often denounced, and the people in question, summoned to explain themselves, and often ousted. Tony Danker, the chief executive of the CBI, Britain’s main employers’ union, had the bitter experience of this last March, pushed out after a complaint by a young employee of inappropriate conduct (he alluded, awkwardly , to their common passion for karaoke). It is now the whole organization which is fighting for its survival, following other accusations by employees against various members of the CBI.
Most recently, at the beginning of June, it took only a few hours for Labor to suspend MP Geraint Davies, after the publication of an article from the site Politico reporting accusations against him of inappropriate behavior or sexual harassment towards young female colleagues. In the case of Phillip Schofield, there is no question of sexual harassment or even inappropriate conduct. Nothing to do with the Savile scandal in the early 2010s: from 2011, after the death of Jimmy Savile, flamboyant BBC presenter, it emerged that this celebrity was a dangerous sex offender who had molested dozens of children , without being prevented, denounced or sanctioned.
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