I blame Simon Cowell, says 'humiliated' hopeful

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The Independent Online

A former Britain's Got Talent hopeful who blamed health problems for her poor audition said today that she holds Simon Cowell personally responsible for her public humiliation.

Emma Czikai, who wants to sue Cowell and his hit show for discrimination, said the talent judge should not have allowed her audition to be broadcast after she told him of her difficulties.



Miss Czikai, speaking on the second day of a pre-hearing review in central London which will determine if a full employment tribunal can go ahead, said Cowell viewed all footage before it was allowed into the public domain.



She said he was "culpable" for allowing the clip to be broadcast even after she wrote to him explaining her health problems and how they had affected her performance.



Miss Czikai said she suffers from fibromyalgia, a condition which causes painful swelling all over the body and extreme tiredness, as well as spondylosis in her neck.



She lost a lot of weight after her mother's death in 2006 and was recovering from an operation to remove excess skin from her arms when she went before the show's judges in January last year.



Miss Czikai said her arms were painful and swollen and she struggled to hold the microphone close to her mouth.



The 54-year-old, from Sutton Coldfield in the West Midlands, is claiming she suffered discrimination because of her disabilities because Fremantle Media and Cowell's television company, Simco, did not do enough to support her.



In her closing remarks, she said: "I brought this case to retain my self-respect and dignity and to be sure that no harm comes to others as it has done to me."



Footage of Miss Czikai's poor performance of Westlife's You Raise Me Up was posted on YouTube by Fremantle Media and Miss Czikai argues that allowing repeated viewings, without a link to an improved performance recorded for the spin-off show Britain's Got More Talent, "was an act of harassment perpetrated in the full knowledge of the fact I was being degraded and humiliated because of illnesses".



Miss Czikai, who is reported to be suing for £2.5 million, said any money would go to charities helping people and animals who are suffering.



Actress Amanda Holden, who is also on the show's judging panel, was named as a fourth respondent in the claim after she made negative comments during the audition, but today Miss Czikai admitted that aspect of the case was "weak".



Thomas Linden QC, representing Holden, Cowell and Simco, called for the case to be thrown out.



He said it did not fit the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act as the show was a talent contest, not a recruitment exercise.



"It's a very artificial way of looking at this process to say the purpose is to decide who is to be offered employment," he said.



He said Miss Czikai "simply did not make it clear" that she had any health issues which required special support.



Earlier, Andrew Llinares, one of the show's producers, told the hearing that notes written by the researcher who interviewed Miss Czikai suggested she had overcome health problems in the past and did not need any special support when she went before the judges in January last year.



"I don't have any regrets," he said.



Mr Linden said the perception was that Miss Czikai mentioned her health problems and her bereavement "to make her more entertaining to the cameras".



"It may be that Miss Czikai perceived she said enough but the notes show that she didn't," he added.



"It's quite clear that what she did not say was 'I'm a person with special needs'."



Miss Czikai is claiming she suffered discrimination because no adjustments were made to microphone levels and backing music which led to the poor performance, but Mr Linden added: "She's a workman blaming her tools."



He said Miss Czikai was entitled to criticise the show and her treatment on it but it did not amount to a discrimination case.

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