The Claimant was a model, actress, former Miss India UK and contestant in the 2012 series of “Big Brother”. The Defendants were the producer of Big Brother (Endemol), the broadcaster of Big Brother (Channel 5) and Conor McIntyre, a fellow Big Brother housemate. The status of the proceedings against McIntyre were not clear at the time of the hearing.
The claim arose in respect of broadcasts of two events from the Big Brother House during which McIntyre, holding a hair brush, used abusive language in a rap directed at C (see ) and two other housemates made fun of C for allegedly eating milk and cereal with her hands (see -). In both cases, the contestants were shown later going into the Diary Room, to be reprimanded by Big Brother for their unacceptable language and behaviour.
C alleged that the words uttered in the broadcasts were defamatory, pleading that they meant “that the Claimant had below average intelligence“; “alternatively that the Claimant is in some way socially or intellectually inferior“, “that the Claimant was sexually promiscuous” (said to arise from the way in which the hair brush was used) and “that the Claimant was in some way socially or intellectually inferior to the other housemates because she was of Indian origin or descent“.
Endemol and Channel 5 brought an application seeking a ruling that (a) the words complained of were incapable of bearing such meanings; (b) were not capable of being defamatory of C and (c) summary judgment be granted against C on the defamation claim.
Endemol and Channel 5 also sought an order that C provide further information about her claim against them for breach of a duty of care and breach of contract. The application was agreed but a costs dispute remained outstanding (see -).