The Jeremy Kyle Show’s bosses have been criticised by MPs for putting guests through lie detector tests without knowing how accurate those tests were.
Damian Collins MP, chair of the House of Commons culture select committee, said the producers’ lack of expert medical knowledge was “astonishing”.
The committee launched an inquiry after the show was axed in May, following the death of participant Steve Dymond.
Mr Dymond, 63, died around a week after reportedly failing a lie detector test.
Mr Collins labelled the show’s makers “irresponsible” after executive producer Tom McLennan admitted the lie detectors used on the show over the past 15 years were “not 100% accurate”, and that he did not know how reliable they were.
“I’m not a lie detector expert,” he told the committee.
At a hearing on Tuesday, Mr Collins told him: “If it wasn’t for the lie-detector test, we might not be sitting here today.”
Mr McLennan said: “We’ve always made it very very clear to the viewers and the participants before the show that the lie detector is not 100% accurate.
“Practitioners claim it has a high level of accuracy but it’s not guaranteed.”
Mr Collins said: “The disclaimer doesn’t mean very much, does it? It’s being presented as black and white… That’s causing considerable distress.”
Jo Stevens MP, also on the committee, said the show had a duty of care and that if producers didn’t know how accurate the lie detectors were, then the “entire premise of the show is fake”.
ITV’s managing director Julian Bellamy claimed there had never been an Ofcom complaint upheld against them regarding the treatment of the 20,000 participants in the history the show.
“We know the show was controversial,” Mr McLennan added. “But we did take our duty of care very seriously.”
However, Paul Farrelly MP said it was “trash TV” and the makers of the show “should be ashamed of themselves”.
‘Jeremy believed in the tests’
Jeremy Kyle last week turned down a request to appear before the committee, which is investigating reality TV.
Mr McLennan said viewers “respected Jeremy, they loved Jeremy and they wanted to hear his thoughts… Jeremy was a fantastic presenter”.
The presenter was “always striving for resolution”, he said.
He went on: “Jeremy did have a strong opinion about the lie detector. He’s got very strong views. He strongly believed in the tests.”
But Mr Collins said it had “been suggested” that Kyle “doesn’t have much to say on the format of the programme”.
Guests on The Jeremy Kyle Show were warned about the host’s “presenting style” before they recorded the programme, according to documents from ITV published by the committee.
The inquiry will invite a range of former TV participants and programme-makers to give evidence over the coming months.