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A former X Factor contestant studied law so she could sue Simon Cowell’s company after the show ‘almost ruined my life,’ report says

Left, Katie Waissel. Right, Simon CowellKatie Waissel was a contestant on The X Factor in 2010, reaching the quarter-finals.

Karwai Tang/Bruce Glikas/WireImage

  • A former X Factor contestant 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 retrained in law so that she could sue Simon Cowell’s company over her experience on the show, a report says.

Katie Waissel, 36, who appeared on the UK version of The X Factor in 2010, told London’s Sunday Times she planned to take legal action against Syco Entertainment, claiming it failed in its obligation to provide a duty of care to her and other contestants.

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

Waissel said she wasn’t allowed to leave the house she lived in during the live shows, barely ate or slept, and has since sought therapy and counselling for post-traumatic stress disorder.

She told the Sunday Times she decided last year to enrol at BPP University in London, and graduated with a postgraduate law degree. The qualification would allow her to work as a paralegal or take further training to become a lawyer.

“There are so many of us who have been so trapped and it’s not fair, there was a huge imbalance in power,” 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 token £1 for appearing on the live shows, with contestants not legally classed as employees.

She said she planned to bring a civil case of personal injury under negligence to Syco Entertainment, of which Cowell is the director. Waissel and her legal team had sent a letter of claim to the company, according to the report.

Waissel would have to persuade a judge to waive the statute of limitations for personal injury suits, which stands at three years.

The X Factor was produced by Simco, a subsidiary of Syco, and Freemantle TV, which told the Sunday Times it had “robust measures” to support contestants, with “no time limit on aftercare once the show has aired.”

The X Factor made stars of contestants in both 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 intense scrutiny for the way contestants were treated.

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

“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,” the source told the newspaper. “Now I am extremely untrusting, emotional, nervous and full of anxiety.”

Syco and Freemantle didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment from Insider.

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