SPOKESPERSON CLAIMS THEY WERE ‘NOT AWARE’ OF FOUR FULL-TIME UNPAID INTERNS
The production company behind X Factor has claimed that they were unaware that there have been four unpaid interns working on-set, full-time for the last three months, assisting stylist Laury Smith.
Attempting to distance themselves further from this story, TalkbackThames have also asked that we change the post that went live on Graduate Fog yesterday, making it clear that “her [Smith's] interns are not X Factor interns.” Here is their email in full:
To: Graduate Fog
Date: Thursday 8 December 2011
Hope you are well.
I believe Our Assembly PR came back to you re the stylist’s interns, but it wasn’t made clear that her interns are not X Factor interns.
Our response to this, which you should attribute to an X Factor spokesperson is as follows:
“talkbackTHAMES does not use free interns. We have a strict policy on all of our shows where we always pay people except when they are doing genuine, short-term work experience and are not actually performing any work or it’s a formal school or college placement. Everyone else is paid. We were not aware that interns were being used by the stylist and we are looking into the matter.”
Please can you amend your story in light of the information above and please do not publish this email on your site as only the response is for publication.
In a separate email exchange – between a concerned Graduate Fog reader, another member of staff at TalkbackThames and a representative of broadcasting union BECTU – a second spokesperson for the production company claimed this had been an “isolated incident”:
To: Graduate Fog reader, Graduate Fog, BECTU
Date: Thursday 8 December 2011
Thank you for your email and for bringing this to matter to my attention.
talkbackTHAMES has a strict policy on all of our shows where we always pay people except when they are doing genuine, short-term work experience and are not actually performing any work or it’s a formal school or college placement. We have investigated this matter and unfortunately there was an isolated incident at The X Factor where some interns were not paid. We will now be rectifying the situation and we will ensure that the interns involved will be paid at the appropriate rate.
We take our employment obligations very seriously and were concerned that this had occurred given our company policy. I can assure you we continue to vigilantly review our processes so that this does not happen again.
We’re not sure we’re buying it – so have written back:
From: Graduate Fog
To: Talkback Thames
Date: Friday 9 December 2011
Thanks for your email yesterday.
While I understand that you would like to make it clear that TalkbackThames is not responsible for these X Factor interns, I am keen to get to the bottom of exactly who is. Perhaps you can help me clarify this? Then, if there is anything on Graduate Fog that you feel is factually inaccurate, I will happily change it. I do not believe that the current post specifically says that TalkbackThames is responsible for these interns, only that there are unpaid interns working on X Factor, which is true, is it not?
Here is where I am with this. It is my understanding that Laury Smith is a freelancer, and your email seems to suggest that you were unaware that she even had interns working with her – let alone that they were unpaid. But from where I’m standing, that isn’t good enough. These interns have been working on-site, full-time, for three months, as part of what is called the ‘X Factor Style team’. So to say “We were not aware that interns were being used by the stylist” – or what the nature of their working arrangement with Laury was – sounds very poor. After all, Liz Jones met these interns – and discovered they were unpaid – and she was only there for a day. So I don’t think it is unreasonable to expect someone at X Factor (other than Laury) to take responsibility for them being there. Unless you are suggesting these interns are invisible?
From Liz Jones’ piece, it also seems that X Factor was happy enough to use these interns to promote X Factor to the press (and use their work on the show), so to now deny that they are part of the X Factor team is unlikely to wash with my readers, who will say that you can’t have it both ways. If they are part of the X Factor team, then X Factor should take responsibility for them being there. As the production company behind X Factor, I assume that the responsibility would lie with TalkbackThames. But have I got this wrong?
As I say, if you can help me clarify who is responsible for these interns, I will happily amend anything that I have written that is inaccurate.
PS. In the interests of transparency and complete accuracy, it is my policy to post all communications of this nature on my website, so I cannot guarantee that your emails will not appear on Graduate Fog. For these reasons, I ask that you do not attempt to phone me, and we keep all our correspondence to email – thanks.
We will keep you posted with progress…
*ARE X FACTOR’S INTERNS INVISIBLE?
Is it possible that the production company behind the X Factor didn’t know that these interns were there? Who should take responsibility for this, in your opinion?