PRESENTER Phillip Schofield has been forced to apologise after he handed a list of alleged paedophiles to the Prime Minister on live television.
David Cameron was making a guest appearance on ITV’s This Morning when the exchange occurred.
Schofield, who hosts the daytime show alongside Holly Willoughby, twisted the card containing the names as he passed it to the Prime Minister, leaving the list briefly visible to millions of viewers.
The names were alleged to be those of paedophiles affiliated with the Tory Party. Schofield claimed he had found the list of suspects after “about three minutes” trawling on the internet.
He asked the Prime Minister: “You know the names on that piece of paper. Will you be speaking to those people?”
Mr Cameron, who did not look at the paper, instead warned viewers not to get carried away in the rush to identify new abusers.
At least one unidentified senior Tory has been implicated in abuse at children’s homes in North Wales dating back to the 1970s and 1980s.
Mr Cameron said: “There is a danger if we are not careful, this can turn into a sort of witch-hunt, particularly about people who are gay, and I’m worried about the sort of thing you are doing right now, taking a list of names off the internet.
“If anyone has any information about anyone who’s a paedophile, no matter how high up in society they are, that is what the police are for.
“I’ve heard all sorts of names bandied around, and what then tends to happen is everyone sits around and speculates about people, some of whom are alive, some of whom are dead.
“I do think it’s very important that anyone who’s got any information about any paedophile, no matter how high up in the country, or whether they are alive or dead, go to the police.”
Tory MP Stuart Andrew – a councillor in Wrexham during the original North Wales abuse-scandal inquiry – described the ambush led by Schofield as “completely irresponsible and an outrageous stunt”.
He said: “Given the serious nature of this whole situation and the real complexity in terms of making sure these victims have the confidence to come forward, I thought it was a very cheap stunt to hand a list to the PM on a TV programme.
“It is not acceptable to take a cheap shot on something that is so fiercely sensitive.”
ITV issued an apology on behalf of Schofield yesterday. In it, he said: “If any viewer was able to identify anyone listed, I would like to apologise and stress that was never my intention. I was not accusing anyone of anything, and it is essential that it is understood that I would never be part of any kind of witch-hunt.
“Unfortunately, there may have been a misjudged camera angle for a split second as I showed the Prime Minister information I had obtained from the internet. I asked for his reaction to give him the opportunity to make a point, which he very clearly made about the dangers of any witch-hunt.”
The National Crime Agency is leading a new investigation into abuse in North Wales children’s homes.
Mr Cameron said: “I want the government to be absolutely on top of this. I don’t want anything to be covered up If there are more things we have to do, we will do them.”