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Former X Factor contestant says she plans to sue Simon Cowell's company

Former X Factor contestant says she plans to sue Simon Cowell’s company

  • A former X Factor contestant has told The Sunday Times she plans to sue Simon Cowell’s company.
  • Katie Waissel said she retrained as a lawyer so she could take legal action against Syco.
  • Waissel said she sought therapy for PTSD after X Factor and that Syco failed in its duty of care.

A former X Factor contestant has retrained in law so she can sue Simon Cowell’s company over her experience on the show, according to a report.

Katie Waissel, 36, who appeared on the UK version of The X Factor in 2010, told The Sunday Times of London that she planned to take legal action against Syco Entertainment, claiming she had breached her obligation to provide a duty of care to itself and other competitors.

She told the newspaper that she received acid attacks and death threats after becoming a hateful figure on the show, reaching the quarter-finals.

Waissel said she was not allowed to leave the house she lived in during the live broadcasts, barely ate or slept, and had since sought therapy and counseling for a stress disorder. Posttraumatic.

She told The Sunday Times that she decided last year to enroll at BPP University London and complete a postgraduate law degree. The qualification would allow her to work as a paralegal or take further training to become a lawyer.

“So many of us were trapped and it’s not fair, there was a huge power imbalance,” Waissel told the newspaper. “I just wanted to be able to understand [the contracts] and to protect people from being manipulated in the future.”

Waissel, who finished in seventh place, told The Sunday Times she was paid a symbolic £1 for her participation in the live shows, as contestants are not legally classed as employees.

She said she plans to take a civil negligence personal injury case to Syco Entertainment, of which Cowell is the director. Waissel and his legal team had sent a complaint letter to the company, according to the report.

Waissel is expected to persuade a judge to waive the three-year statute of limitations for personal injury suits.

The X Factor was produced by Simco, a subsidiary of Syco, and Freemantle TV, which told The Sunday Times it had “strong measures” to support contestants, with no “time limit on follow-up once the program broadcast”.

The X Factor has made stars of contestants in the US and UK including One Direction, Little Mix and Camila Cabello. But the show, which ended in the UK in 2018, has come under scrutiny for how contestants have been treated.

In August, an unnamed source told the Mirror that she and five other previous candidates were approaching a law firm to take legal action against SyCo.

“Your mental well-being was of no interest to anyone. We were just pawns in their game. When I came on the show I was confident, ambitious and charismatic,” the source told the newspaper. “Now I am extremely suspicious, emotional, nervous and full of anxiety.”

Syco and Freemantle did not immediately respond to Insider’s requests for comment.

Were you an X Factor contestant? Contact this journalist confidentially at rhogg@insider.com