- Written by Mark Savage and Peter Walker
- BBC News
A man has appeared in court charged with solicitation to commit murder over an alleged plot to kidnap TV presenter Holly Willoughby.
Gavin Plumb, of Potters Field, Harlow, in Essex, was also charged with incitement to commit kidnapping.
The 36-year-old, a security officer in a shopping area in the city, appeared at a brief hearing at Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court.
Willoughby did not appear on Thursday’s edition of ITV’s This Morning.
She was reportedly under police protection at her home on Thursday evening.
Mr Plumb, who was wearing a green shirt, was remanded in custody to appear at a hearing at Chelmsford Crown Court on November 3.
He is accused of “inciting, encouraging, persuading, seeking to persuade or suggesting to a third party” to kill Willoughby between Tuesday and Wednesday.
He was also allegedly “formulating a plan with a third party” between Monday and Thursday.
He allegedly “encouraged that third party to travel to the UK to carry out the plan” and was “assembling an abduction and restraint kit, capable of encouraging or assisting the commission of a kidnapping” Willoughby.
“This was an extremely fast-paced investigation, with many of our officers and national partners working through the night to secure these charges,” Detective Inspector Rob Kirby of Essex Police said in a statement.
“The protection of any victim is paramount and we will continue to prioritize this matter and work with the Metropolitan Police Service as the investigation continues.”
An ITV spokesperson said: “This news has come as a huge shock to everyone at This Morning and ITV.
“We are offering all the support we can to Holly and her family at this very difficult time.”
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“We won’t talk much about it, but Holly was on the front pages after police arrested a 36-year-old man over an alleged kidnapping plot,” presenter Dermot O’Leary said on This Morning on Friday.
Co-presenter Alison Hammond said: “Obviously we are all shocked to hear the news and want to send our love and huge hugs to Holly and her family.”
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak offered his support to Willoughby before an interview on This Morning.
“I was so sorry to hear about everything that happened with Holly and I wanted to send my best to her, her family and all of you,” he said.
Another presenter, Lorraine Kelly, told viewers: “[It’s] Very annoying, and of course we send Holly all our love and best wishes.
“It’s a terrible thing for her and her family to have to go through.”
The accusations come after a turbulent few months for Willoughby, 42, who has presented “This Morning” since 2009.
Willoughby said she would remain as presenter, but took a break from the program over the summer.
The BBC contacted Willoughby’s agent and publicist for comment on the alleged kidnapping plot, but they declined, directing all inquiries to the police.
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