Substantial damages for reality show victim

Channel 5 apologies to Ms Amel Fridhi

Channel 5 has made a statement in open court apologising to Ms Amel Fridhi for featuring her in an edition of the reality show Can’t Pay? We’ll Take it Away!

Ms Fridhi and her family were evicted from their home.  The High Court Enforcement Agents (bailiffs) who carried out the eviction wore bodycams and microphones owned by Brinkworth, the production company engaged by Channel 5 to make Can’t Pay.  The video and audio recorded by the bodycams and microphones were also owned by Brinkworth.  Ms Fridhi’s case was that the bailiffs abused their position by acting as undercover cameramen with the purpose of collecting video and audio of her in order for Channel 5 to broadcast it to the world at large.  She believed that the bodycams were only being used for the personal protection of the bailiffs; she had no idea that the video and audio collected in this manner was to be included in a television programme.  She complained that the video and audio captured using this technique constituted a misuse of her private information.  She also complained that the broadcast of the edition of Can’t Pay which featured her, which included film and audio of her collected in this manner and by open filming conducted by a camera crew, was a misuse of her private information.  The relevant programme was broadcast many times by Channel 5 on various television stations owned by it and via Channel 5’s on-demand service, My5.  The programme was watched by 7.9 million people in a form in which Ms Fridhi’s face was not obscured and by 6.3 million people in a form in which her face was blurred.  The film of Ms Fridhi showed her in a state of distress.

Channel 5 settled the claim by apologising via a statement in open court and by paying substantial damages to Ms Fridhi, as well as her costs.  It has also undertaken not to broadcast the programme again.

The making of the statement was presided over by Mrs Justice Collins Rice, who stated:

“This is not the first occasion on which this programme has come before the Court in similar circumstances. No doubt the Defendant is correct to reflect on what is likely to be a difficult circumstance in the Claimant’s life. It is good to see this matter settled to the satisfaction of the Claimant, and without the Claimant being troubled by litigation, and I hope the statement just made and the payment of substantial damages will enable her to draw a line under this and get on with her life”.

5RB’s William Bennett KC and Felicity McMahon acted for Ms Fridhi, instructed by Alex Cochrane and Daniel Shaw of Hamlins