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TV firm fined for unlawfully filming at maternity clinic

The company had been given permission to film by the Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (stock photo)
The company had been given permission to film by the Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (stock photo)

By Henry Vaughan

A television company that unlawfully filmed patients at a maternity clinic for a Channel 4 documentary on stillbirths has been fined £120,000 by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO).

London-based True Visions Productions (TVP) set up CCTV-style cameras and microphones in examination rooms at the walk-in centre at Addenbrooke's Hospital.

The company had been given permission to film by the Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

But an investigation found that TVP failed to adequately inform patients, who were attending over pregnancy concerns, before they were filmed.

Steve Eckersley, ICO director of investigations, said: "Patients would not have expected to have been filmed in this situation, and many will have been very distressed when they learned such a private and potentially traumatic moment had been recorded."

The filming, for Channel 4's Child Of Mine programme, started in July 2017 but stopped in November that year after the methods were revealed by the press.

An investigation found "limited notices" advising of the filming had been placed near cameras and in the waiting room. But the ICO found they "did not provide adequate explanations to patients, with one notice incorrectly stating that mums and visitors would not be filmed without permission".

The unlawfully obtained footage was not broadcast in the documentary, which was shown in October last year.

A TVP spokeswoman said: "We are disappointed in the outcome of the ICO's decision after we made strong legal representations that their approach was wrong.

"We are considering the decision and the potential for any appeal with our legal advisers."

A Channel 4 spokesman said: "We note TVP's statement and are supportive of their position."

The trust said no footage was ever viewed by anyone without the "express consent" of the patient, and was automatically deleted after a few days.

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