MPs brand ITV bosses 'irresponsible' over use of lie detector tests

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by Simon Austin

Jeremy Kyle "strongly believed" in lie detector tests, even though both he and ITV bosses did not know how accurate they were, MPs have been told.

The presenter has refused to appear in front of a House of Commons culture select committee into reality television, which started yesterday.

The inquiry is being held after Kyle's show was axed in May following the death of participant Steve Dymond. The 63-year-old died around a week after failing a lie detector test.

Executive producer Tom McLennan admitted the tests used during the show's 14-year history were "not 100% accurate" and that he did not know how reliable they were.

"Jeremy did have a strong opinion about the lie detector,” McLennan said. “He's got very strong views. He strongly believed in the tests."

Committee chairman Damian Collins cited research that the tests were only 66% accurate and described the show’s producers as "irresponsible", telling McLennan: "If it wasn't for the lie-detector test, we might not be sitting here today.”

He added: “It's being presented as black and white. That is causing considerable distress to the people receiving the results.

"I can't see how someone can give informed consent to take part in a lie detector test when they have got no idea how accurate it is, or even what the range of accuracy is for that test."

ITV chief executive Dame Carolyn McCall said the show had followed the correct procedures, but that the broadcaster would not make any similar series involving lie detectors in the future.

She said members of the production team told guests in advance that the tests were not infallible and prepared them for the results.

"They used to go through with participants the worst consequences of a lie detector test," McCall said. "They would actually talk to participants about how they would feel, what they would think, if the lie detector test went against them.

"I honestly think that the team did whatever they could to explain that. There will be some individuals that would not listen, I think, probably. That's just human nature. But I think the production team would have done everything they could to ensure people understood what they were getting into on that show."

Julian Bellamy, ITV Studios managing director, confirmed that the broadcaster would continue working with Kyle - but not on another "conflict resolution" show.

He said there had never been an Ofcom complaint upheld against them regarding the treatment of the 20,000 participants in the history the show.

McLennan said viewers "respected Jeremy, they loved Jeremy and they wanted to hear his thoughts... Jeremy was a fantastic presenter". The host was "always striving for resolution", he added.