At a hearing before Mr Justice Johnson today, 28 March 2023, Channel 5 made a public apology to our client, George Brown, for the misuse of his private information in respect of the filming, making and multiple broadcasts of an episode of the television programme, ‘Can’t Pay? We’ll Take it Away!’
In or about January 2017, two High Court Enforcement Agents (HCEAs) attended Mr Brown’s home to enforce a debt owed by Mr Brown’s partner, Mr Alan Sartori. A film crew was in attendance and Mr Brown made it clear he did not wish for the film crew to enter his home and for either himself or Mr Sartori to be filmed. The film crew remained outside the property as requested.
However, the HCEAs wore bodycams and radio microphones which were used to record video and audio footage without consent. This footage was subsequently used in an episode of ‘Can’t Pay? We’ll Take it Away!’ first broadcast by Channel 5 on 5 April 2017.
The episode showed Mr Brown in a state of significant distress and has subsequently been broadcast to over 10 million people.
The broadcast of the programme has caused considerable upset and distress to our client due to the grave misuse of his private information. Channel 5 has agreed to a full and public apology. It has also agreed to pay substantial damages, an undertaking not to further broadcast the episode in which he featured and to pay his reasonable legal costs.
Lauren Twidale, Associate, Media Disputes at Hamlins, said:
“The substantial sum in damages Channel 5 has agreed to pay to our client, George Brown, in settlement of his claim at the Royal Courts of Justice today, reflects the severity of the infringement of his privacy. It has been a privilege to act for Mr Brown, to obtain justice in this case and to hold Channel 5 to account.”
George Brown said:
“The damage and harm that the Channel 5 programme, ‘Can’t Pay? We’ll Take It Away!’, has caused me is unimaginable. The programme appears to target vulnerable people and uses their unfortunate situations as a form of entertainment. It has been a huge weight on my shoulders which has continued to affect my life negatively to this day. With the help of Christopher Hutchings, Lauren Twidale, Meera Khunti and Anna Seal at Hamlins, I have been able to put an end to the terrible ordeal this programme has put me through.”
William Bennett KC of 5RB is Counsel for the Claimant instructed by Christopher Hutchings of Hamlins LLP
Hamlins’ Media Disputes team has helped, and is continuing to help, a number of clients with claims against Channel 5 for breach of privacy during the filming of the TV programme ‘Can’t Pay? We’ll Take it Away!’ and similar fly-on-the-wall documentaries.
Hamlins’ outstanding Media Disputes solicitors who acted on behalf of our client comprise: Christopher Hutchings, Partner; Lauren Twidale, Associate; Anna Seal, Senior Paralegal; and Meera Khunti, Senior Paralegal.