Search icon


16th Jan 2023

X Factor contestant Katie Waissel plans to sue Simon Cowell

Charlie Herbert

She claims the show failed in its duty of care to contestants.

Former X Factor contestant Katie Waissel plans to sue Simon Cowell’s company over her treatment on the hit ITV talent show.

The 36-year-old, who appeared on the show in 2010 and reached the quarter finals, told the Sunday Times that she had retrained in law so that she could take legal action against Syco Entertainment.

She is planning on bringing a civil case of personal injury under negligence against the company, of which Cowell is the director.

According to the Sunday Times, Waissel and her legal team have sent a letter of claim to Syco Entertainment.

The X Factor was produced by Simco, a subsidiary of Syco, and Fremantle TV.

Waissel told the newspaper that she became a hate figure on the show and received acid attack and death threats.

She claims she wasn’t allowed to leave the house she lived in during the live shows, barely slept or ate, and has been through therapy and counselling for post-traumatic stress disorder.

She claims Syco Entertainment failed in its obligation to provide a duty of care to her and other contestants.

Speaking to the Sunday Times, she said that she enrolled at BPP University in London last year and graduated with a postgraduate law degree.

This means she can now work as a paralegal or undertake further training to become a lawyer.

Waissel told the publication: “There are so many of us who have been so trapped and it’s not fair, there was a huge imbalance in power.

“I just wanted to be able to understand [the contracts] and to protect people from being manipulated in the future.”

She added that she was paid a token sum of £1 to appear on the live Saturday night shows. As contestants in a talent competition to win a prize, contestants are not employed by the company.

There may be a stumbling block for her in her legal claim though, because of the period of time since the events on the show. The statute of limitations for personal injury suits stands at three years, so Waissel and her team will need to persuade a judge to waive this.

A spokesperson for The X Factor told JOE: “The duty of care to our contestants is of the utmost importance to us and we take the welfare of everyone involved very seriously.

“We have robust measures in place to ensure contestants are supported including a dedicated welfare team made up of psychologists, doctors, welfare producers and independent legal and management advisors with no time limit on aftercare once the show has aired.

“These measures are always under constant review and are adaptable to reflect the unique requirements for each series.”

JOE has approached Simon Cowell’s team for comment.

Last August, a source told the Mirror that they and five other former X Factor contestants were  approaching a law firm to sue SyCo for at least £1 million ($1.2 million).

The source told the paper: “Your mental wellbeing was of no one’s interest. We were just pawns in their game. When I entered the show I was confident, ambitious and charismatic.”

“Now I am extremely untrusting, emotional, nervous and full of anxiety.”