Channel 5 apologises and makes hefty payout to OCD-hit woman distressed by appearing on TV show Can’t Pay? We’ll Take It Away when bailiffs entered her home despite her saying she didn’t want to be filmed
Channel 5 has offered to pay ‘substantial damages’ to a woman suffering obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) who was left distressed after she featured in an episode of the TV show Can’t Pay? We’ll Take It Away.
Bailiffs told Natasha Lowe they were hauling away £6,000 worth of her goods because of debts allegedly owed by her then-boyfriend Daniel White to his ex-partner.
She was filmed returning to the flat in Woolwich, London, in 2016, to find two bailiffs and a three-man film crew. The episode was later broadcast to around six million viewers between 2016 and 2017, it is claimed.
Ms Lowe launched legal action against Channel 5 Broadcasting, Brinkworth Films Limited and Direct Collection Bailiffs Limited (DCBL) after the broadcast of episode in the programme’s fourth series.
Ms Lowe accepts she did consent to being interviewed by the film crew, but said she did not believe it would be broadcast without her permission.
Natasha Lowe sued for invasion of privacy after her face was shown during a broadcast of Can’t Pay? We’ll Take It Away! Ms Lowe accepted giving an interview to film crews, but argues she expected to be consented before it was broadcast
She also sought an injunction preventing it being shown again. A hearing at the High Court in London on Thursday was told that the legal dispute had been resolved through a settlement.
William Bennett QC, representing Ms Lowe, told the court that Channel 5, the TV production company and the bailiffs firm had denied her case, but she had accepted an offer to resolve it through their payment of substantial damages and her legal costs.
The hearing before Mrs Justice Tipples was told that at the time of filming in February 2016, Ms Lowe lived with her then-partner who owed money to his former girlfriend.
His ex-girlfriend instructed DCBL to recover the debt and High Court Enforcement Agents (HCEAs) appeared at Ms Lowe’s flat in Woolwich, south east London, on February 16.
A film crew accompanied the bailiffs and was invited into the home by her now ex-partner while she was commuting to work.
Mr Bennett told the court that she returned home ‘in a state of anxiety’ after her former partner phoned to say the agents were ‘about to seize her possessions unless she could provide receipts which proved that she owned them.
‘On her return she made it clear to the film crew that she did not want to be filmed and so the crew agreed to leave the property,’ Mr Bennett said.
He said Ms Lowe believed she was about to lose her possessions because she had not kept receipts, with the incident coming as a ‘complete shock’ to her.
Despite the film crew leaving, Ms Lowe was recorded by the bailiffs’ bodycams and radio microphones, with the video and audio being edited and used in the episode.
‘The broadcast of the programme has caused the claimant substantial upset and distress,’ Mr Bennett said.
Lawyers for Ms Lowe said it was wrong to show footage of her ‘visibly crying, behaving in a way which she would never behave in public’ because she was upset by the way bailiffs were handling her possessions and walking on her carpet
‘It has been particularly upsetting for her because she did not owe the relevant debt.’
The court was told that Channel 5 had agreed not to broadcast the programme again, or make it available on the internet, and had also agreed to join with Brinkworth Films in apologising to Ms Lowe publicly ‘for the distress caused to her by the programme’.
Robbie Stern, representing Channel 5 and Brinkworth Films, said that it was their case that ‘they have at all times believed that this programme forms part of a series of real public interest, where each of the stories involves a careful balancing exercise between matters of public interest and the right to respect for privacy’.
He added: ‘They are prepared to accept, however, that on this occasion, in relation to the claimant, they may well have got that balance wrong and for that reason they are prepared to settle her claim and also apologise to her for the distress caused to her by the broadcast of the episode in question.’