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ITV's 'Grimefighters' infringed man's privacy

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Celebrity Grimefighters

© Rex Features / ITV

Ofcom has said that ITV's Grimefighters "unwarrantably infringed" an environmental service worker's privacy, after it failed to obscure his face as he cleaned up rubbish.

The edition of Grimefighters aired on ITV1 on April 12 this year depicted how extra resources were required in Leicester to tackle rubbish dumped around the recycling areas.

David Gemmell complained to media regulator Ofcom that his privacy had been infringed after he was shown clearing up the rubbish without his face being obscured. Gemmell said that he had been told that he would not be featured in the show.

ITV said that Grimefighters was made by independent programme makers, and claimed it was not made aware of Gemmell's request for his identity to be concealed.

The broadcaster said that the situation occurred due to "human error" on the part of the programme makers, who had failed to pass on an email from Gemmell's employer, Leicester City Council, asking for all environmental service workers to be obscured.

ITV said that the situation occurred for a variety of reasons, including the six-month gap between filming and editing of the footage, along with the departure of key members of the production staff and the "heavy workload" of those who remained.

When ITV was contacted about the error two days after transmission, the programme was withdrawn from catch-up service ITV Player and re-edited.

ITV fully accepted that Gemmell should not have appeared unobscured on Grimefighters, and the broadcaster apologised for the mistake.

However, it noted that he only appeared on the show for around five seconds and was engaged in activities in the public place, meaning he "did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy".

Ofcom accepted that Gemmell only appeared very briefly and was shown with other workers, but the regulator said that ITV should have honoured his request not to be depicted at all.

"Ofcom concluded that there was no public interest justification for the intrusion into Mr Gemmell's privacy by the inclusion of the unobscured footage of him in the programme as broadcast," said the watchdog.

"Ofcom therefore found that Mr Gemmell‟s privacy was unwarrantably infringed in the programme as broadcast."

The regulator noted ITV's actions to apologise for the error and edit the episode of Grimefighters, but it still upheld Gemmell's complaint that his privacy was "unwarrantably infringed in the programme as broadcast".

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