Channel 5 has been ordered to pay damages over an eviction on Can’t Pay We’ll Take It Away.
A couple who were seen being evicted on the documentary successfully claimed that airing the scenes violated their right to privacy.
They had asked the footage not to be broadcast but it aired over 30 times in an 18 month period on Channel 5 and its sister channels.
Channel 5 defended the episode in question, arguing that the scenes were broadcast in the public interest and the channel had a right to freedom of expression.
However the court held that in this particular case, these rights were outweighed by that of the privacy of those being evicted.
Mr Justice Arnold said in his ruling (via The Guardian): “The focus of the programme was not upon the matters of public interest, but upon the drama of the conflict.
“The programme did contribute to a debate of general interest, but I consider the inclusion of the claimants’ private information went beyond what was justified for that purpose.”
A spokesperson for Channel 5 said: “Channel 5 welcomes the judge’s assessment, which recognises that the programme is made in good faith and in the public interest.
“We are encouraged by the judge’s acceptance that Channel 5’s editorial discretion extended to the presentation of the story, the tone of the programme and the material included, providing a fair and accurate account of the eviction of the claimants.
“We also note that the case’s final verdict was based on the specific facts related to a segment involving the […] family and not the series in general.”
A lawyer for the couple told the BBC the ruling was “one of the first” to concern such an “observational documentary”.
“[The] judgement will inevitably have wider ramifications for those broadcasting film of a similar kind,” they added.
Can’t Pay We’ll Take It Away has aired regularly on Channel 5 for the past four years. There have been over 70 episodes across 5 series to date.