Reality TV producer wins damages from ITV2 over Peter Andre contract dispute
A television producer has been awarded “substantial damages” after a cable TV channel was held to be in “breach of contract” following a dispute involving singer and reality show star Peter Andre.
A judge at the High Court in London ruled that ITV2 “wrongfully terminated” a production agreement with Neville Hendricks’ company Mr H TV to produce reality shows involving Peter Andre and Kerry Katona.
Mr Justice Flaux heard that the three-year agreement, dated 9 December 2010, related to the ‘Peter Andre: The Next Chapter’ series and ‘Here To Help’ - shows which initially concerned his marriage to the model Katie Price, formerly known as Jordan, and then his life in the aftermath of their divorce.
The manager of both Andre and Katona at that time was Claire Powell, whose company CAN Associates worked in close association with Mr Hendricks.
As well as being business partners, Mr Hendricks and Ms Powell had an “on and off” relationship for some years and they had a son together who was six in 2011 when, in May that year, their relations “deteriorated considerably”.
The judge said: “What appears to have particularly incensed Mr Hendricks was the discovery that Ms Powell had taken her latest boyfriend, Mr Drew Rush, who worked for the security company employed by Mr H TV, with her to Dubai during filming of a calendar shoot with Mr Andre and other clients and that they had been conducting their affair whilst his six-year-old son was around. He assumed that other people, including Mr Andre, had known about the affair but kept it from him.”
By the beginning of June 2011, it was clear that Ms Powell was looking for an opportunity to replace Mr Hendricks as the production company for the Peter Andre series and she told ITV2 that Mr Andre had “issues” with Mr Hendricks, suggesting that a company other than Mr H TV be used to produce the programmes, but her suggestion was not taken up.
Around the same time, the management agreement between Ms Powell and Ms Katona came to an end “in somewhat acrimonious circumstances” after the press picked up a fase rumour that Ms Katona was having an affair with Mr Hendricks, who believed the rumours were being spread by Ms Powell.
The rumour and anger about Ms Powell’s affair with Drew Rush led Mr Hendricks to open a Twitter account, which he used to tweet intimate details of Ms Powell’s and Mr Andre’s private lives, “often in the most scurrilous and vitriolic terms”.
Efforts to resolve the dispute failed and Mr Andre’s solicitors wrote a letter to Mr H TV’s solicitors saying Mr Andre “wanted no further dealings whatsoever” with Mr Hendricks or his company.
The judge said it was that letter which “almost certainly” led ITV2 to terminating the production agreement the following day by letter dated 17 August 2011, alleging there had been a breach of ITV’s general terms and conditions.
ITV2 also sought to terminate the agreement on the ground that a proposal that Katona should appear on Celebrity Big Brother was a “fundamental breach” by Mr H TV of an “exclusivity obligation”.
Mr Hendricks’ Mr H TV Limited sued ITV2, claiming damages consisting of lost profits estimated at £6m-£7m and £549,060 under an outstanding invoice, arguing that the purported termination was “wrongful and a repudiatory breach of the production agreement.
The channel counterclaimed that he was in repudiatory breach of the agreement, arguing that the posting of the tweets constituted breaches of an “implied term” that Mr Hendricks would not act in any way such as to damage the necessary relationship of trust and confidence in the parties’ relationship.
However, the judge ruled in favour of the claimant.
In a written judgment, Mr Justice Flaux said: “I consider that Mr Andre and Ms Powell used the tweets as a pretext, first to justify refusing to start filming Peter Andre: The Next Chapter series five and second to put illegitimate commercial pressure on ITV2 to terminate its contract with the claimant and use another production company.”
He added: “I have concluded that the claimant was not in repudiatory breach of the production agreement and that the contract was not frustrated. Rather, the purported termination was a repudiatory breach by ITV2 in respect of which it is liable for substantial damages to the claimant.”
The judge also rejected the counterclaim and held that the claimant was entitled to revover the amount of the outstanding invoice in full.