Vardags — when you need to win

Me and/or my company is going to feature on a documentary. What I can do to protect my reputation and/or that of my business?

Featuring in a documentary can have a devastating effect on your business. Programmes will often include undercover footage, interviews with former staff or customers, and an intense focus on senior management.

By instructing us prior to publication, we can engage with the broadcaster to ensure the programme is fair and balanced and help you put in place a strategy to minimise the reputational fallout.

If you think you may need our help, please call us right away. At an initial consultation we can give you preliminary advice, and plan how you might want to proceed.

Please call our confidential enquiry line on 020 7404 9390 to book a consultation. Lines are staffed 24 hours.

How can Vardags help?

It's possible, but it’s not an easy process. The best chance you have is to prove that the allegations they want to publish are untrue and that their evidence is unreliable.

The key is to engage early in the production process and provide them with as much evidence as possible to undermine the credibility of the allegations; the sooner you engage lawyers, the better.

We can also examine the behaviour of the broadcaster and journalists who have put the programme together. For example, if they have used unethical tactics that breach the relevant broadcasting codes we can challenge the inclusion of that evidence in the programme.

If you think you may need our help, please call us right away. At an initial consultation we can give you preliminary advice, and plan how you might want to proceed.

Please call our confidential enquiry line on 020 7404 9390 to book a consultation. Lines are staffed 24 hours.

Broadcasters are bound by certain obligations. They need to:

  • treat subjects fairly;
  • give them an opportunity to respond; and
  • avoid any unwarranted infringement of privacy. If there is infringement of privacy, it must be warranted. 

Through legal engagement, we can seek to ensure that your rights are observed and that any broadcast is fair, balanced, and accurate.

If you think you may need our help, please call us right away. At an initial consultation we can give you preliminary advice, and plan how you might want to proceed.

Please call our confidential enquiry line on 020 7404 9390 to book a consultation. Lines are staffed 24 hours.

The use of undercover journalists is obviously incredibly intrusive and is a favourite technique of documentary makers.

Undercover reporting is not illegal, but there needs to be a strong justification for employing such tactics. This activity is strongly guarded by the Ofcom Code, which provides that surreptitious filming or recording should only be used where it is warranted. Normally, it will only be warranted if:

  • there is prima facie evidence of a story in the public interest;
  • there are reasonable grounds to suspect that further material evidence 
    could be obtained; and
  • it is necessary to the credibility and authenticity of the programme.

Once you have learnt that an undercover reporter has infiltrated your company or home you need to get a full account from your staff of exactly what happened and what information/people they had access to. It’s worth considering whether the behaviour of the undercover reporter has breached any rules or laws, which we can advise on. 

Undercover reporters are also not allowed to engineer situations to get the story they want, so it is vital to find out as much about their behaviour while they were undercover as possible as this might enable you to challenge the use of that material.

If you think you may need our help, please call us right away. At an initial consultation we can give you preliminary advice, and plan how you might want to proceed.

Please call our confidential enquiry line on 020 7404 9390 to book a consultation. Lines are staffed 24 hours.

Being ‘door-stepped’ (where the press come to your home) or otherwise hounded by the press is obviously very upsetting, whether you are high-profile or not. We can help you take back control of the situation.

Paparazzi and journalists are bound by certain codes of ethics such as the IPSO Code & Ofcom Code. We can work to ensure that journalists are reminded of their ethical duties. Additionally, we can assist with minimising the risk of you being harassed by ensuring that personal details such as your home address are less readily available to the public.

If you think you may need our help, please call us right away. At an initial consultation we can give you preliminary advice, and plan how you might want to proceed.

Please call our confidential enquiry line on 020 7404 9390 to book a consultation. Lines are staffed 24 hours.

If you feel that the programme was unfair or inaccurate, there are steps you can take. There are broadly two options. You can complain directly to the broadcaster (e.g. ITV) or you can make a complaint to Ofcom. The complaint will need to be framed according to Ofcom rules and you will need to demonstrate how the broadcast has breached the relevant Ofcom Code.

Ofcom have the power to issue a fine to organisations deemed to have breached the Ofcom Code, although such cases are relatively rare.

Ofcom rulings are publicly available, so a ruling in you favour can be publicised and go some way to stemming the damage caused by the programme.

If you think you may need our help, please call us right away. At an initial consultation we can give you preliminary advice, and plan how you might want to proceed.

Please call our confidential enquiry line on 020 7404 9390 to book a consultation. Lines are staffed 24 hours.

Contact Vardags

London
020 7458 4358

10 Old Bailey, London, EC4M 7NG

View Office
Cambridge
01223 855237

1 Saint Mary's Passage, Cambridge, CB2 3PQ

View Office
Manchester
0161 464 5799

98 King Street, Manchester, M2 4WU

View Office
Newcastle
0191 640 8779

75-85 Grey Street, Newcastle, NE1 6EF

View Office
Winchester
01962 657268

1 St James' Terrace, Winchester, SO22 4PP

View Office