Saturday night saw a dream come true for 31-year-old bricklayer Nathan Hageman: at the climax of the first episode of Syco TV’s much-hyped new ITV1 game show, Red or Black?, Hageman won £1m on the spin of a wheel.
But calls are growing today for Simon Cowell’s production company and ITV to take the extraordinary step of stripping Hageman of the prize. It turns out he is a convicted criminal who was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment in 2006 for actual bodily harm and aggravated burglary. Hageman served two and a half years for the crime.
ITV say they knew of the conviction. So should they have allowed Hageman onto the show in the first place? Is it right to give violent criminals the chance to win a life-changing sum of money? Or would barring him from competing have been an unfair further punishment for a man who had served his time already?
Give us your views on that – but today the story has taken a new turn. At the weekend Hageman gave a newspaper interview in which he described being threatened by his ex-girlfriend’s new partner, and pre-emptively attacking the man through fear.
Then somebody checked the relevant court papers, to discover that the victim of the crime for which Hageman was convicted was in fact a woman – widely assumed to be Hageman’s ex-girlfriend.
Is a crime a crime regardless of the victim’s gender, or does the revelation that Hageman assaulted a woman (and then apparently lied about it) change your view on whether he can keep the £1m?
It may give Syco/ITV a legal basis to take action, if Hageman can be shown to have deceived them about the nature of his crime. Applicants to Red or Black? signed a form, the terms and conditions of which stated that they “must be prepared to submit to a Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check at any time and/or disclose to the Producers when asked, details of any and all convictions and actions pending against them”.
Successful applicants will also have signed a further contract with the Red or Black? producers, which may well include a blanket clause about “bringing the show into disrepute” or similar.
So should Syco/ITV take back the £1m, if indeed they’re legally able to do so? What do you think?
UPDATE: It’s now been announced that Hageman will keep the money, with Syco/ITV seemingly unable, legally, to withhold it.
Give us your thoughts in the comments section below.