ITV has been rapped by Ofcom for causing distress and humiliation to a 17-year-old girl accused of being a “crackhead” and a “silly anorexic slapper” during an episode of the Jeremy Kyle Show.
After the young teenager failed one of the programme’s famous lie detector tests, her older sister hurled a torrent of foul abuse at her during the episode broadcast last September.
The young girl appeared seriously distressed, shouting, crying and breathing heavily in front of a live studio audience during the row, which erupted after she was accused by her sister of stealing items from their mother.
Ofcom said that ITV “added” to the young girl’s distress and failed to apply “generally accepted standards of broadcasting”.
The regulator said that ITV left the 17-year-old “unable to defend herself and respond to her older sister’s threats and allegations”, and that the presenter failed to acknowledge her distress.
They added that the “degree of humiliation and distress” displayed by the younger sister “exceeded the more typical editorial content of this programme” – which is known for its explosive family confrontations.
Ofcom cleared ITV of two breaches of its code after the broadcaster insisted that the girl had applied to the show and had not made any complaints about her treatment.
But it upheld a third breach, stating that ITV had not done enough to ensure the offence caused was justified by the context of the programme.
“Viewers were not provided with sufficient information - and so context - regarding the steps that the licensee had taken and had in place to ensure due care was taken over her emotional welfare and dignity, and to limit her distress,” the report concluded.
Additional reporting: PA