Retribution begins for ‘paedophile list’ stunt

Philip Schofield has been 'disciplined' by ITV for showing David Cameron a list of alleged paedophiles during a live television interview, the broadcaster announced today.

The news comes as a fourth man – Radio 1 DJ David Lee Travis – was arrested on suspicion of sexual offences as part of Operation Yewtree.

The 67-year-old joins BBC producer Wilfred De'ath, 73, former pop star Gary Glitter, 68, and comic Freddie Starr, 69, in being arrested in the wake of the Jimmy Savile sexual abuse row.

Schofield, who co-presents This Morning, could face further sanctions after regulator Ofcom confirmed it was launching an investigation into last Thursday's incident, as well as Newsnight's erroneous allegations against Lord McAlpine.

Over 400 people have complained to the watchdog about the programme's decision to confront the prime minister with a list of those alleged to have been involved in historic child abuse cases.

Both Schofield and ITV were quick to apologise afterwards. The broadcaster said in a statement that its "investigation" had now concluded and that "the appropriate disciplinary action has been taken".

It added: "We sincerely apologise because the way in which the issue was raised was clearly wrong and should have been handled differently.

"We have taken steps to make sure our editorial processes are always properly followed, which was not the case in this instance, and to ensure such an error will not be made again."

ITV's attempts at damage limitation have not been sufficient to avoid pressure from parliament. John Whittingdale, chair of the Commons' culture, media and sport committee, has written to ITV's director of television Peter Fincham demanding to know whether the Schofield stunt represents "responsible journalism in the public interest".

Whittingdale added: "I would also like to know at what level the decision was taken, what legal advice was sought, and what subsequent consideration has been given to the appropriateness of this broadcast."

Conservative MP Rob Wilson has written to Ofcom raising concerns that the broadcasting code had been breached. He suggested ITV had failed to provide an opportunity to the individuals whose names were disclosed to respond.

Wilson is also pursuing the BBC's Newsnight programme over its failure to give Lord McAlpine an "appropriate and timely opportunity to respond" to its allegations.

The programme did not name the Tory peer but, as Lord McAlpine himself noted in a statement released last Friday, it was reasonable to infer that he was the target of the programme's allegations.

Tony Close of Ofcom wrote to Wilson informing him that investigations have begun into both ITV and the BBC.

"I can confirm that Ofcom considers that both the Newsnight and This Morning programmes raise issues warranting investigation in relation to the application of generally accepted standards by ITV and the BBC, and the application of standards to prevent unfair treatment to an individual, and unwarranted infringements of privacy."

The BBC's misdirected allegations have subsequently been established as a case of mistaken identity. McAlpine and his lawyers are now pursuing those who defamed him last week.