Channel 5, a TV production company and a firm of bailiffs have agreed to pay 'substantial damages' to a woman who featured in an episode of the show Can't Pay? We'll Take It Away.
Neelam Zarghune, who was filmed in 2017, brought legal action against Channel 5 Broadcasting Limited, Brinkworth Films Limited and Direct Collection Bailiffs Limited (DCBL) claiming a 'grave misuse' of her private information.
She also sought an injunction preventing further broadcasts of the episode from the programme's fifth series.
On Monday, the High Court heard that Ms Zarghune, 24, of Hounslow, west London, was shown 'in a state of distress' in the episode viewed by around 4.5 million people between early 2018 and mid-2019.
Prior to the filming, Ms Zarghune's former partner had incurred parking fines using a car for which she was the registered owner.
William Bennett QC, for Ms Zarghune, told the court that she accepted she was liable to pay the debt but had forwarded documentation to her ex-partner.
Neelam Zarghune, who was filmed in 2017, brought legal action against a TV production company, Channel 5 and a firm of bailiffs claiming a 'grave misuse' of her private information. Pictured: Bailiffs on Channel 5's Can't Pay? We'll Take It Away
'He assured her he would deal with the fines and she believed him,' Mr Bennett said.
But Ms Zarghune's former partner did not pay the debt and a court judgement was entered against her over the outstanding fines.
An enforcement notice warned that her belongings could be seized if the debt went unpaid by a certain date, but Ms Zarghune, then aged 19, was 'taken by surprise' when two High Court enforcement agents (HCEAs) with a film crew arrived at her home in February 2017 'given what her former partner had told her', Mr Bennett said.
He added: 'The claimant made it clear to the film crew in the presence of the HCEAs that she did not want to be filmed. The film crew agreed not to enter the property.'
However, the enforcement officers' body cameras and radio microphones recorded footage and audio that was later used in the programme.
The episode was initially seen by over 1.4 million people with Ms Zarghune's face shown, and a further 3.1 million people watched a version where her face was blurred and her name removed.
Ms Zarghune took legal action against Channel 5, Brinkworth Films and DCBL, and a statement was read to High Court judge Mrs Justice Collins Rice after the parties agreed a settlement.
Mr Bennett said: 'The broadcast of the programme has caused the claimant upset and distress.
'The claimant's case is that the programme wrongly revealed matters that were private to her which took place in her home, and that the filming of her within her home and the subsequent publication of the private information obtained in that way to 4.5 million people amounted to a grave misuse of her private information.'
He said the companies had served defences denying Ms Zarghune's case, but she had accepted their offer to resolve her claim on terms that involved the payment of 'substantial damages' and her 'reasonable legal costs'.
Channel 5 also agreed not to broadcast the programme again and joined Brinkworth Films in apologising to Ms Zarghune.
Tim James-Matthews, for the broadcaster and Brinkworth Films, said 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 apologise to her for the distress caused to her by the broadcast of the episode in question.'