ITV show This Morning says it was ‘deliberately misled’ by a hoaxer who claimed to have set up a celebrity sperm bank.

It ran an interview earlier in the week with a self-styled businessman called Dan Richards who said his firm, FameDaddy, would match up women with donors including professional sportsmen and millionaire musicians.

This Morning host Phillip Schofield told viewers yesterday an investigation had been launched into the story.

An ITV spokeswoman said: “We obviously always make every effort to ensure the legitimacy of all the many stories which we feature on This Morning, as well as the authenticity of all guests. We carry out a range of checks, which in this case included verifying that this company was legally registered, and we did the interview in good faith.

“But it now appears that the man claiming to run a website for celebrity sperm donation was an actor working for a TV production company who clearly went to great lengths to pull the wool over the eyes of the programme and our audience. They also managed to convince other media, appearing on radio and in newspapers. We are very sorry that This Morning and our viewers were deliberately misled by this stunt.”