ITV X Factor star Rebecca Ferguson calls for independent inquiry into reality shows

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ITV X Factor star Rebecca Ferguson said the result of the inquiry will be “beyond terrifying”.

X Factor star Rebecca Ferguson has called for an independent inquiry into reality shows. The singer claimed contestants were “mentally manipulated and abused” and “bullied” in a series of social media posts.

Rebecca, 36, wrote a series of tweets on Twitter, which read: "I'm bound by multiple NDAs but I cannot continue to not live in my full truth, being silent is worse. I've lived through hell for years."

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The former X Factor star called on Dame Caroline Dinenage, the chair of parliament’s culture, media and sport committee, to ask for an independent inquiry. She suggested interviewing herself and previous X Factor staff and witnesses between 2004 and now.

In the tweets, she described the culture to be uncovered as being “beyond terrifying”. The tweets come after a scandal involving former This Morning presenter Phillip Schofield who has admitted having an affair with a much-younger colleague.

Rebecca tweeted: “11th March 2021 I emailed the senior leadership team of ITV including Carolyn McCall asking for an investigation of reality shows including codes of conducts, post show aftercare and freedom of choice of management.

“On the 24th March 2021, ITV COO Sarah Clarke came back apologising about any personal bad experiences but declining to investigate any further - assuring that there is commitment to have these procedures in place already and insisting that they follow a Duty of Care Charter.

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“Interestingly they indicated that all parties including legal teams were independent of each other so that constituted providing independent legal advice.

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“please ask for an independent inquiry, interview myself and ALL previous staff, and witnesses  2004- present what you’ll uncover is beyond terrifying!”

Ofcom statement

ITV and Ofcom have since responded to Rebecca’s claims. An Ofcom spokesperson said: "We listened carefully to the extent of her concerns about the treatment of contestants during her time on The X Factor in 2010.

"During these exchanges, we explained our powers and how our broadcasting rules apply in detail. We confirmed that new rules introduced to protect participants in programmes were not applicable to programmes broadcast before April 5, 2021.

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"We also clarified that our statutory remit, as set by parliament, means that our fairness rules do not extend to contractual matters or conditions imposed by broadcasters on participants, and only to content as broadcast.

"We suggested to Ms Ferguson possible routes to escalate her complaints to ITV and the appropriate authorities."

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ITV statement

ITV also responded to Rebecca’s claims, saying they are "committed to having in place suitable processes to protect the mental health and welfare of programme participants". The broadcaster also stressed that contestant welfare was of the “highest priority”.

The statement continued: "We have continued to evolve and strengthen our approach, and we expect all producers of commissioned programmes to have in place appropriate procedures to look after the mental health of programme participants as well as their physical safety. Those processes and procedures will differ from programme to programme, to ensure that the welfare of all participants in ITV programmes is appropriately safeguarded.

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"Whilst the practical detailed processes required to manage participant welfare in each programme must sit with producers themselves, ITV as a broadcaster and commissioner of content provides guidance on what we consider to be best practice: in the selection of participants before filming, in supporting them during filming, and in continued support up to and after the broadcast of the programme."

ITV added: "ITV responded to Rebecca with information provided to us by the producers, detailing their arrangements regarding welfare, aftercare, legal advice, and management, at the time of her participation."

The news comes after ITV has faced previous criticism in recent years following the death of former Love Island contestants Sophie Gradon and Mike Thalassitis in 2018 and 2019, as well as the death of a guest on The Jeremy Kyle Show in 2019 which saw the show being axed.

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ITV also faced criticism last month following Phillip Schofield’s departure from This Morning, after the former presenter admitted to lying about having an affair with a younger employee. Chief executive of ITV Dame Carolyn McCall will be questioned about Phillip by the DCMS committee in parliament on Wednesday.

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