On 19 April 2021 a joint statement in open court [pdf] was read before Mrs Justice Collins Rice after Keith Wain and Julie Kelly, both private individuals, accepted an offer of settlement in relation to the misuse of their 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!” .
The couple also received a substantial damages payment, non-repeat undertakings in respect of the broadcast complained of and an agreement to pay their reasonable costs.
On 11 May 2017, two High Court Enforcement Agents (HCEAs) attended Mr Wain and Ms Kelly’s home to enforce a debt relating to a sum of money Mr Wain had borrowed from a private individual who had agreed not to press Mr Wain for payment of the sum owed. A film crew was also in attendance.
Mr Wain made it clear to the film crew that he did not wish for them to enter his home or for him to be filmed. However, the HCEAs who did enter their home wore bodycams and radio microphones and recorded video and audio footage which was subsequently shown in the programme.
The episode was first broadcast on 6 September 2017, and Channel 5 only ceased broadcasting it in late 2020 once legal proceedings had been issued for misuse of private information. The episode in question was broadcast to over 6.7 million viewers in total.
The programme showed Mr Wain and Ms Kelly in their own home in a state of considerable distress and the substantial damages payment which Channel 5 has agreed to pay them in settlement of their claim reflects the very serious nature of the privacy intrusion and breach of their Article 8 rights.
Following the reading of the agreed statement, Mrs Justice Collins Rice commented: “I do hope that today’s Statement and the other terms of the settlement will assist Mr Wain and Ms Kelly to draw a line under this clearly upsetting episode.”
The Judge added that while the broadcaster worked on a case by case basis to balance privacy and public interest, she suggested there is “perhaps an opportunity here” to consider how the balance is struck and stories are approached.
The Claimants were represented by Alex Cochrane, Christopher Hutchings and Isabelle Sands of Hamlins LLP and William Bennett QC and Felicity McMahon of 5RB.