Channel 5 will pay “significant damages” to an 88-year-old optometrist who is left distraught after appearing on an episode of TV show Can’t Pay? We take it away!
rian Hitchin has taken legal action after appearing in episode 16 of the show’s fourth season – which was broadcast by nearly 12million viewers.
He claimed there had been “misuse” of his private information through the “filming, creating and multiple airing” of the episode from October 2016 to April 2021, and is seeking damages.
The broadcast of the program caused immense excitement and grief to the plaintiff. The plaintiff’s case is that the broadcast wrongly disclosed private matters taking place at his business premisesFelicity McMahon, for Mr. Hitchin
A hearing was held in the High Court in London on Friday before Mr Judge Saini was told the dispute had been settled through a settlement.
Felicity McMahon, representing Mr Hitchin, told the court that between 22 April 2016 and 16 June 2016 two High Court Enforcement Agents (HCEAs) visited the practice he ran in Stone, Staffordshire.
They were there to enforce a High Court “writ of control” obtained by an equipment supplier against Mr Hitchin to confiscate goods unless he paid money he allegedly owed.
Mr Hitchin, then 82, asked a film crew accompanying the HCEAs to leave, unaware he was being recorded on agents’ bodycams, Ms McMahon said.
The bodycam footage was used to show Mr Hitchin on screen “in a state of distress”.
Ms McMahon said: “The broadcast of the program caused immense upset and distress to the plaintiff.
“The plaintiff’s case is that the program falsely disclosed private affairs taking place at his business premises.”
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I am pleased that we were able to help Mr Hitchin gain access to courts in this case and bring his case to a very successful conclusionAlex Cochrane, partner at the law firm of Hamlins
The attorney said the episode was broadcast to more than 5.7 million people as of October 19, 2016 in a form that showed Mr Hitchin’s face, and later to nearly 6.2 million people with his face unrecognizable made and his name removed.
The court heard that on November 29, 2016, a Stafford County Court judge ruled that the equipment supplier had “acted improperly” in filing a claim against Mr Hitchin “for money not owed”.
The claim that led to the certificate of control was dropped, and Channel 5 later updated its program’s epilogue to bring it to viewers’ attention.
Ms McMahon said the broadcaster dismissed Mr Hitchin’s case but the dispute was settled amicably.
Mr Hitchin has accepted an offer to pay “substantial damages” as well as his reasonable legal fees, she said.
It is the defendant’s case that it has always believed that this program forms part of a genuine public interest series, with each of the stories involving a careful balancing of matters of public interest and the right to respect for privacyTim James Matthews for Channel 5
Channel 5 has also agreed not to re-air the program or make it available on the internet.
Channel 5’s Tim James-Matthews said: “It is the defendant’s case that he has always believed that this program forms part of a series of genuine public interest, where each of the stories involves a careful balancing of matters of public interest and that Right to privacy.
“However, she is willing to accept that on this occasion, in relation to the claimant, she may have got that balancing act wrong and for that reason is willing to settle his claim and also apologize to him for the distress caused to him by broadcast.” of the relevant episode.”
Alex Cochrane, a partner at Hamlins law firm, said the case involved a “very serious misuse” of Mr Hitchin’s private information.
“This was a particularly egregious case; He was 82 at the time of filming and was clearly in an extremely vulnerable position.
“The shipment has caused our customer considerable concern over a period of several years.
“I am pleased that we were able to assist Mr. Hitchin in gaining access to justice in this case and bringing his lawsuit to a very successful conclusion.”
https://www.independent.ie/entertainment/television/tv-news/channel-5-apologises-to-vulnerable-pensioner-on-cant-pay-well-take-it-away-41511529.html Channel 5 apologizes to ‘vulnerable’ pensioner on Can’t Pay? We take it away!