Kiwi TV presenter takes on British PM

A former New Zealand TV presenter has been slammed after ambushing British Prime Minister David Cameron with a list of alleged child sex abuse suspects on live television.

On the daytime television show This Morning, presenter Phillip Schofield handed Cameron a card with a list of names drawn from internet gossip of figures from the premier's Conservative Party.

Cameron appeared unsettled but took the paper before warning of the risk of speculation about claims that a senior Conservative politician from the 1970s and 1980s was involved in a paedophile ring.

"There is a danger if we are not careful that this can turn into a sort of witch hunt, particularly about people who are gay," Cameron said on the show on the commercial network ITV.

"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."

Schofield moved to New Zealand from the UK when he was 19, and went on to present the children's music show Shazam! In 1982, before working for two years at Auckland-based Radio Hauraki.

He returned to England in 1985, where he presented children's shows for the BBC.

Schofield, 50, later apologised for the stunt after it appeared that part of the list would have been visible to viewers of the show.

"If any viewer was able to identify anyone listed, I would like to apologise and stress that was never my intention," Schofield said.

"Unfortunately there may have been a misjudged camera angle for a split second as I showed the prime minister some information I had obtained from the internet."

Fellow TV presenter Jonathan Dimbleby described Mr Schofield's behaviour as "cretinous", while Rob Wilson, a Conservative MP for Reading East, condemned ITV as its "actions could damage innocent people", the Daily Telegraph reported.

Wilson has referred the incident to Ofcom, the UK's television regulatory body, asking whether it would investigate allegations that at least two names were visible when Schofield accidently showed the card to cameras.

The incident comes as the British Government this week announced two separate inquiries into allegations of abuse in children's homes across north Wales after the claims about the politician from former Conservative prime minister Margaret Thatcher's era.

One inquiry will look into the initial police investigation into the allegations, dating back to the 1970s and 1980s, while the other will review a judge-led probe into the scandal that was carried out in 2000.

A furore over paedophilia at high levels in the British establishment has raged ever since hundreds of allegations of child sex abuse against late BBC television star Jimmy Savile emerged in recent weeks.

- AFP, Herald Online

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