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04th Jun 2023

‘Baffled’ Jeremy Clarkson defends Phillip Schofield from ‘witch hunt’

Charlie Herbert

Jeremy Clarkson defends Phillip Schofield

‘It seems to me he is only guilty of being what he said he was: gay’

Jeremy Clarkson has hit out at the “witch hunt” against Phillip Schofield, saying he has been left “baffled” by the reaction to the presenter’s past affair with a younger male colleague.

The Grand Tour host said he has “no skin in the fight” as he doesn’t know Schofield, but defended the 61-year-old.

Writing in the Sunday Times, Clarkson said: “He maintains that his lover was over the age of consent when their relationship became physical, but that hasn’t silenced the howls of disgust.

“And I find that weird. We casually roll our eyes when we hear that Leonardo DiCaprio’s new girlfriend is three and we even nod appreciatively when we learn that the age gap between Al Pacino and his pregnant girlfriend is 54 years.”

He said he had “never seen a witch hunt like it,” continuing: “Everyone who’s ever walked past him in the street must be sacked as well. And those who paid his wages or sat next to him in the studio must be hauled into televised committees so that bramble bushes can be inserted into their bottoms.

“I’ve never seen a witch-hunt like it, and what baffles me most of all is that, as things stand, no crime has been committed.

“I don’t know him at all well and have no skin in the game, but it seems to me he is only guilty of being what he said he was: gay.”

Schofield gave an interview to the BBC last week in which he said homophobia was a big part of the public outrage to his affair admission (BBC)

He added that he did not believe ITV chief executive Carolyn McCall would have had any knowledge of the affair.

In an interview last week, Schofield said that homophobia was a significant factor in the backlash to the age gap between him and his former lover.

Speaking to the BBC, the 61-year-old said if it had been a “male-female” relationship then “it wouldn’t be such a scandal.”

In a separate interview with the Sun, he made the same point, saying: “It’s accepted by Leonardo DiCaprio, it’s not accepted if it’s in the gay world.

“Attraction is attraction. It’s no different in the gay world as it is in the heterosexual world or in the lesbian world. There shouldn’t be a difference. This is where homophobia comes in.”

LGBT rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said on Saturday that the public outrage against Schofield has “a whiff of homophobia” about it.

Just over a week ago the former This Morning presenter confessed to lying to his former employee about the relationship but said it was “unwise but not illegal”.

The star met the man – who has not been publicly named – when he was 15. He was 19 when he first did work experience at This Morning in 2015, and 20 when he applied and succeeded in securing a job as a runner on the show. In 2019, he was promoted to Loose Women and left ITV in 2021.

Schofield has denied grooming the man and said the affair did not begin until the man was 20 after “something just happened between us that changed everything”.

He has said the affair was “consensual.”

Related links:

Caroline Flack’s mum slams ITV for treatment of Phillip Schofield

Phillip Schofield reveals he’s too scared to leave his house over fears he’ll be spat on

Phillip Schofield says his ‘hands are blistered’ from vaping so much