Katie Waissel to sue Simon Cowell

Katie Waissel is suing Simon Cowell credit:Bang Showbiz
Katie Waissel is suing Simon Cowell credit:Bang Showbiz

Katie Waissel is planning to sue Simon Cowell after training as a lawyer.

The 36-year-old former singer sought therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder in the years following her appearance on 'The X Factor' in 2010 after suffering panic attacks and suicidal thoughts in the wake of being branded the "most hated" contestant of the series, and she's now taking action against the music mogul's company Syco Entertainment for breach of duty of care during her time on the show.

She told The Sunday Times newspaper: “I am pursuing a civil case of personal injury under negligence, which pertains to duty of care.”

The statute of limitations on personal injury is three years so Katie and her lawyers - who have sent a letter of claim to Syco Entertainment - will need to persuade a judge to waive it.

Katie has seven boxes of documents relating to her time on the show, and admitted she is shocked by the contract she signed at the time, with the contestants - who were not classed as employees so didn't receive the same working rights - given a token sum for taking part, while Simco, of which Syco was the parent company, made a profit of £22.9 million in her year.

She said: “I was [contractually] given £1 in exchange for appearing on the live shows section of the programme

“That structure is manipulation and coercion at its finest. Company A, who is in a position of power, seeks person B, who is vulnerable. Company A says, this is the biggest opportunity of your life and without it, you would be nothing. That is the absolute pinnacle of where it’s all gone wrong. It gives me goosebumps...

"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.”

The mother-of-one wasn't allowed to leave the contestants' house without permission and she wasn't ready for the level of exposure the show brought.

She said: “I look back at the paparazzi pictures at the time and I honestly look like an addict — I was not — I didn’t eat, I didn’t sleep. It felt like they owned all of me. I’ve had therapy or counselling from the second I left [the show].”

As well as her legal studies, Katie has founded the OWHL Foundation, a charity which aims to “oversee the welfare, human rights and liberty within the creative industry sector”.

She said: “My charity will provide civil, criminal and mental health support to those in the industry who are navigating their way through, decoding what is going on.

“It’s like a legal GP, somewhere truly independent and safe, if you are bewildered by everything.

"People on reality TV are being publicly ridiculed for entertainment and we have become desensitised to it. It’s wrong.”

Representatives for Syco Entertainment declined to comment, but Fremantle, the co-production company on the 'X Factor' said they have "robust measures", which are constantly under review to “ensure contestants are supported, including a dedicated welfare team made up of psychologists, doctors, welfare producers and independent legal and management advisers with no time limit on aftercare once the show has aired.”