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Jeremy Kyle Show: MPs criticise ‘irresponsible’ ITV over lie detectors

The Jeremy Kyle Show Image copyright ITV/Shutterstock
Image caption Jeremy Kyle turned down a request to appear before MPs

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 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.

No more lie detector shows

At a hearing on Tuesday, ITV’s chief executive Dame Carolyn McCall said the show had followed the correct procedures, but that the broadcaster would not make any similar shows involving lie detectors in the future.

Mr Collins labelled The Jeremy Kyle Show’s makers “irresponsible” after executive producer Tom McLennan admitted the polygraphs used during the show’s 14-year history 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.

Mr Collins told him: “If it wasn’t for the lie-detector test, we might not be sitting here today.”

‘Considerable distress’ caused

The show dealt with “really vulnerable people” who were led to believe and results were accurate, Mr Collins said.

“It’s being presented as black and white,” he said. “That’s causing considerable distress.”

He added: “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.”

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”.

Image copyright STEVE DYMOND/FACEBOOK
Image caption The inquest into Steve Dymond’s death will continue in November

‘People knew what they were getting into’

However, Dame Carolyn 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,” she said. “They would actually talk to participants about how they would feel, what they would think, if the lie detector test went against them.”

  • Jeremy Kyle declines DCMS inquiry appearance
  • How The Jeremy Kyle Show became a ‘toxic brand’

ITV “probably went beyond what is required” to explain that the results were not necessarily reliable, she said.

“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.”

‘Trash TV’

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.

Tom McLennan said: “We know the show was controversial. But we did take our duty of care very seriously.”

However, Paul Farrelly MP branded it “trash TV” and said 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.”

Guests on the show were warned about the host’s “presenting style” before they recorded the programme.

Love Island and body image

Image copyright ITV
Image caption L-R: Current islanders Tommy Fury, Lucie Donlan, Curtis Pritchard and Amber Gill

The inquiry will invite a range of former TV participants and programme-makers to give evidence over the coming months.

The committee will also consider the wider issues facing reality TV shows, such as Love Island.

On Tuesday McCall defended ITV over questions regarding the perceived lack of different body types of the people featured on the dating show.

“We do a range of shows,” she said, noting I’m a Celebrity, Saturday Night Takeaway and Britain’s Got Talent, as well as The X Factor and Love Island.

“They are very different shows and they show the diversity of Britain completely.

  • Diversity? Aftercare? How Love Island has changed

“For Love Island, the most important thing on that is the people are young and healthy. They are all within the healthy range of BMI or above.

“They are not all the same shape, there are variations of shape.

“Although I take your point they are all fit, healthy, young individuals because it’s a dating show.”

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‘Two arrests’ over leaked A-level paper

exam hall Image copyright Getty Images

Police investigating the leak of an A-level maths paper on 13 June have arrested two people, the exam board, Edexcel, has said.

Two questions from the paper were posted on Twitter the day before the exam.

In the now deleted post, the account holder urged students to get in touch, offering the full paper for £70.

Pearson Edexcel said: “We understand students are rightfully concerned and want a fair playing field.”

The parent company’s senior vice-president in charge of schools, Sharon Hague, added: “Our key priority is ensuring no students are disadvantaged in any way.”

The Metropolitan Police has confirmed it is leading the investigation into the leak and will issue a statement shortly.

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Cricket World Cup: Australia’s Marcus Stoinis run out against England after a mix-up with Steve Smith

Australia’s Marcus Stoinis is run out after a mix-up with teammate Steve Smith, leaving both batsmen at the same end in their World Cup match against England.

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Chelsea given permission to speak to Derby boss Lampard

Lampard won the Champions League with Chelsea in 2012

Chelsea have been given permission to speak to Derby boss Frank Lampard about their vacant manager’s job.

Lampard, 41, spent 13 years as a Chelsea player and would replace Maurizio Sarri, who has joined Juventus after one season at Stamford Bridge.

The Blues would have to pay the Rams about £4m if they appoint Lampard.

“With pre-season fast approaching for both clubs it is hoped this will allow Chelsea to swiftly conclude their discussions,” a Derby statement read.

“The club will make no further comment until it is appropriate to do so.”

Lampard embarked on his first campaign as a manager last season, leading the Rams to the Championship play-off final where they lost to Aston Villa.

The former England midfielder made 648 Chelsea appearances, winning 11 major trophies.

If he does take over, he will inherit a transfer embargo after Chelsea were given a two-window transfer ban by world governing body Fifa – a decision the club are appealing against at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

The view from Derby

BBC Radio Derby commentator Chris Coles

The worst kept secret in football is finally getting the conclusion many Derby County fans have feared for a long time. Such has been the clamour around Frank Lampard’s return to Chelsea, and the time it’s all taken, Rams fans will be pleased the circus is packing up and moving on.

That’s not to say they won’t be sad. It was an incredible season with some amazing memories. No-one at Elland Road will ever forget Derby’s second-half performance which earned them a place in the Championship play-off final.

And then there was the bounce. Whether by accident or design, Lampard endeared himself to the Derby faithful with his bouncing. It became tradition after every significant victory. The fans loved him for it.

This whirlwind relationship is coming to an end, but when the dust settles, Derby fans will remember a man who revitalised the club and ultimately moved on to the job of his dreams.

Lampard’s record at Derby
Competition Games Won Drawn Lost Goals for Goals against Win %
Championship (inc. play-offs) 49 21 14 14 74 59 42.9%
League Cup 4 2 1 1 10 5 50%
FA Cup 4 1 2 1 6 6 25%
Total 57 24 17 16 90 70 42.1%

‘Super Frank’s’ Stamford Bridge connection

Lampard joined Chelsea from boyhood club West Ham for a fee of £11m in 2001.

He won a Champions League and a Europa League at the club, while also helping them to win three Premier League titles, four FA Cups and two League Cups.

Chelsea’s title win in 2004-05 was their first in half a century and Lampard scored 13 league goals that season, including both in a 2-0 victory at Bolton that sealed the top-flight crown.

He scored 10 or more Premier League goals in 10 successive seasons for Chelsea and is the club’s all-time record goalscorer with 211.

Lampard left Stamford Bridge in June 2014 and had a stint at Manchester City, where he scored six goals in 32 appearances.

He then joined New York City in Major League Soccer in the US, making his debut in August 2015, before ending his 21-year professional playing career in 2017.

Lampard won 106 England caps after making his international debut in 1999 and went on to score 29 goals for the Three Lions.

He appeared in three World Cups and one European Championships.

Analysis

Phil McNulty, BBC Sport chief football writer

Should a deal be reached between Chelsea and Frank Lampard it would arguably be the biggest gamble Blues owner Roman Abramovich has made since he took over at Stamford Bridge 16 years and 11 managers ago.

Abramovich’s modus operandi when it comes to managerial appointments has been based on experience, quality and success – Avram Grant apart – with not an English manager to be seen, let alone a young and relatively unproven one.

Chelsea have had five Italian managers, two Portuguese, a Brazilian, an Israeli, a Dutchman and a Spaniard in Abramovich’s reign, so the notion of Lampard stepping through the door at the club’s Cobham training base is a radical departure on many levels.

And make no mistake, it would not only be a huge gamble for Abramovich, it would be exactly the same for Lampard. This would be high risk for all parties.

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Lee Pomeroy death: Accused ‘stabbed man over train aisle row’

Court sketch of Darren Pencille (L) and Chelsea Mitchell in the dock at the Old Bailey Image copyright Julia Quenzler
Image caption Darren Pencille, left, and Chelsea Mitchell are on trial at the Old Bailey

A man was stabbed 18 times on a train in front of his 14-year-old son after a “heated argument” over blocking the aisle, the Old Bailey has heard.

Darren Pencille denies murdering Lee Pomeroy, 51, on a Guildford to London service on 4 January.

The defendant’s girlfriend, Chelsea Mitchell, is also on trial and denies assisting an offender.

Opening the case, prosecutor Jacob Hallam QC said Mr Pomeroy was killed the day before his birthday.

He said the victim and his son boarded the train at London Road Station at 13:01 GMT and within five minutes, he had been stabbed by Mr Pencille.

‘Ignorance is bliss’

“That wound to the neck was the first of 18 wounds with a knife that Mr Pencille inflicted on Mr Pomeroy that day,” he told jurors.

“A little over an hour after he boarded the train, and despite the best efforts of the emergency services who rushed to save his life, Lee Pomeroy was dead.”

Image copyright Family Handout
Image caption Lee Pomeroy was stabbed to death on a Guildford to London train

The prosecutor told jurors the events surrounding the killing were captured on CCTV and witnessed by other passengers.

Mr Pomeroy and his son had boarded the same carriage as Mr Pencille and made their way down the aisle, the court heard.

Mr Hallam suggested they may have been “blocking” Mr Pencille’s way and the defendant had said: “Ignorance is bliss.”

“That prompted Lee Pomeroy to respond and ask what it was he meant. An argument began between them. It was an argument that became heated and became heated pretty quickly.”

The prosecutor told the court Mr Pencille rushed from the scene and was picked up by 27-year-old Miss Mitchell, of Wilbury Road, Farnham.

He told the jury: “She collected him and together they drove to the flat where she lived in Farnham, Surrey, then drove to the south coast.

“Mr Pencille cleaned himself up and changed his appearance. The two of them also engaged in research on the internet about what it was Mr Pencille had done.”

The trial continues.

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Cricket World Cup: Australia’s Steve Smith is booed as he walks to the crease against England

Australia’s Steve Smith is booed by the crowd at Lord’s as he takes to the crease against England in their Cricket World Cup match.

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Johnson defends Brexit plan and silence over row

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Media captionBoris Johnson on Brexit, privacy and his character

Boris Johnson has admitted he would need EU co-operation to avoid a hard Irish border or crippling tariffs on trade in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

In an exclusive interview with the BBC, the favourite to be the next PM said: “It’s not just up to us.”

But he said he did “not believe for a moment” the UK would leave without a deal, although he was willing to do so.

Asked about a row he’d had with his partner, he said it was “simply unfair” to involve “loved ones” in the debate.

Reports of the argument on Friday with his girlfriend, Carrie Symonds, dominated headlines over the weekend after the police were called to their address in London.

The interview comes after Sky News said it would have to cancel a head-to-head debate on Tuesday between the two leadership contenders as Mr Johnson had “so far declined” to take part.

Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd told Radio 4’s Today programme she found Mr Johnson’s decision to ignore live TV debates “very odd” and urged him “to reconsider”.

Following days of criticism that he has been avoiding media scrutiny, Mr Johnson has given a number of other interviews, including with LBC and Talk Radio.

On LBC, he was repeatedly challenged on his personal life and a photograph which showed him and his partner. Asked whether his campaign was behind the release of the picture, Mr Johnson refused to answer.

He told Talk Radio’s political editor Ross Kempsell he would “not rest” until the UK had left the EU, insisting Brexit would happen on 31 October “come what may… do or die”.

Meanwhile, the other candidate, Jeremy Hunt has promised to boost defence spending by £15bn over the next five years if he becomes prime minister.

‘Different understanding’

In his interview with BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg, Mr Johnson said the existing deal negotiated by Theresa May “is dead”.

He insisted it was possible to broker a new deal with the EU before the end of October because the political landscape had changed in the UK and on the continent.

“I think actually that politics has changed so much since 29 March,” he said, referring to the original Brexit deadline.

“I think on both sides of the Channel there’s a really different understanding of what is needed.”

At the moment, the UK is due to leave the EU on 31 October after the PM’s Brexit deal was rejected three times by Parliament, and the EU has previously said the withdrawal agreement reached with the UK cannot be reopened.

Mr Johnson said he would be able to persuade Brussels to resolve the Irish border issue – a key sticking point – despite repeated warnings from EU leaders that that was impossible.

He said there were “abundant, abundant technical fixes” that could be made to avoid border checks.

When challenged that these did not exist yet, Mr Johnson replied: “Well, they do actually… in very large measure they do, you have trusted trader schemes, all sorts of schemes that you could put into place.”

But, he admitted, there was “no single magic bullet” to solve the issue.

A plan full of ifs and buts

Mr Johnson’s really controversial gamble is to say he could do a new trade deal with EU leaders before the end of October.

And he says he would be able to do that before resolving the most controversial conundrum – how you fix the dilemma over the Irish border.

He clearly believes he has the political skill to pull that off. He and his supporters would say that is a plan.

But it is a plan that is full of ifs and buts – either heroic or foolhardy assumptions to imagine that EU leaders and Parliament would be ready to back his vision – and back it by Halloween – on an extremely tight deadline.

The political pressure is on, not just to get it done quickly, but done in a way that does not harm our relations with the rest of the world and the livelihoods of people living in this country.

In terms of the controversies over his personal life, it is absolutely clear even now – when he is on the threshold of No 10 – that Boris Johnson thinks there are questions he simply does not have to answer.

And for a politician about whose character many people have their doubts, that is going to follow him around unless and until he is willing to give more.

Mr Johnson said if he was elected he would start new talks as soon as he reached Downing Street to discuss a free trade agreement.

He also said he hoped the EU would be willing to grant a period of time where the status quo was maintained for a deal to be finalised after Brexit.

He called this “an implementation period”, but accepted this was not the same as the implementation period in the current draft treaty agreed with the EU.

Mr Johnson committed to passing new laws as soon as possible in order to guarantee the rights of EU citizens living in the UK.

The former foreign secretary also suggested EU leaders might change their attitude to renegotiation because they had Brexit Party MEPs they did not want in their Parliament, and wanted to get the £39bn that had been promised as part of the so-called divorce bill.

And he said MPs could be more willing to back a revised deal because – after disappointing local and European elections last month – they realised both Labour and the Conservatives would face “real danger of extinction” if Brexit were to be stalled again.

‘Good reason’

Mr Johnson refused again to give more detail of what happened at his home in the early hours of Friday.

“I do not talk about stuff involving my family, my loved ones,” he said.

“And there’s a very good reason for that. That is that, if you do, you drag them into things that really is… not fair on them.”

Instead of his private life, he said the public actually want to know “what is going on with this guy?”

“Does he, when it comes to trust, when it comes to character, all those things, does he deliver what he says he’s going to deliver?”

Despite widespread criticisms from his fellow Conservatives that he cannot be trusted, Mr Johnson said anyone questioning his character was “talking absolute nonsense”.

He also refused to respond to accusations from rival Jeremy Hunt that he was being a “coward” for avoiding more head-to-head TV debates, promising that if elected he would “govern from the centre right” because the centre “is where you win”.

Ms Rudd, who is supporting Mr Hunt, said Mr Johnson was making a mistake by shying away from the debates and said he needed to “go further” in explaining his Brexit plan.

“This is an incredibly difficult situation and Boris needs to explain how he will deal with both sides of the Conservative Party that have concerns and try and break the impasse with the European Union.

“Enthusiasm and optimism is not sufficient.”

Responding to claims that a dozen Tory MPs would be prepared to bring down a government heading to a no-deal Brexit, she said: “I think that’s about right. I think it’s slightly less than that, but it’s certainly more than two.”

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Etika: Body found in search for missing YouTuber

YouTuber Etika, also known as Desmond Amofah, in his home Image copyright Etika/YouTube

Police investigating the disappearance of YouTuber Etika have found a body in New York City’s East River.

The body has yet to be formally identified. Police say the investigation is continuing.

The gamer, 29, whose real name is Desmond Amofah, was reported missing six days ago. His belongings, including his Nintendo Switch, were found on Manhattan Bridge on Monday.

He had uploaded an eight-minute YouTube video in which he talked about suicide.

Etika is popular for playing and discussing Nintendo games on YouTube and the streaming platform Twitch.

His Twitch account has been deleted but other social media platforms, including Twitter and Instagram, remain visible.

He has 321,000 followers on Twitter and 252,000 on Instagram.

Who is Etika?

Etika joined YouTube in 2012.

He is best known for his reaction videos, where he responded to new releases and products, mainly from games giant Nintendo.

The 29-year-old has worried his followers with his behaviour on social media in the past, with the police called to his home following a suicide threat.

Uploaded at midnight on the evening of the 19 June (19:00 BST), his latest YouTube video, titled I’m sorry, features Etika walking the streets of New York.

In the film, he apologises for pushing people away and confirms he suffers from mental illness.

He also talks about social media, advising “caution” around using it too much.

“It can give you an image of what you want your life to be and get blown completely out of proportion,” he says.

“It consumed me.”

The original video was removed but copies have been uploaded by other YouTube users.

If you’ve been affected by a mental health issue, help and support is available.

Visit BBC Action Line for more information about support services.

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Harry and Meghan’s home renovations cost £2.4m in taxpayer funds

Duke and Duchess of Sussex with their baby son Archie Image copyright PA

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s home was renovated with £2.4m of taxpayer-funded costs, royal accounts show.

Frogmore Cottage in Windsor was turned into a single property for Prince Harry and Meghan, from five separate homes.

The couple, who moved from Kensington Palace in April before the birth of their son Archie, paid for fittings.

The Queen’s Sovereign Grant from the Treasury was £82m in 2018-19, with £33m set aside for maintenance, including major work on Buckingham Palace.

The Sovereign Grant is funded by profits from the Crown Estate.

The estate is the Royal Family’s commercial property arm and owns land and buildings in prime central London locations and across the UK. It is managed by an independent organisation, with any profit paid to the Treasury for the benefit of all UK taxpayers.

Separate accounts show the Crown Estate provided a record £343.5m to the Treasury in 2018-19, up 4.3% on last year.

‘Our responsibility’

The royal accounts said the renovation of Frogmore Cottage was paid out of the Sovereign Grant and involved the “reconfiguration and full refurbishment of five residential units in poor condition to create the official residence for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

The 19th Century, Grade II listed, property was given to them by the Queen.

It sits in the grounds of royal residence Frogmore House, where Prince Harry and Meghan held their wedding reception in May 2018.

Defective wooden ceiling beams and floor joists were replaced and inefficient heating systems updated. The house also required extensive rewiring – including an electrical sub-station – and the installation of gas and water mains.

The refurbishment took about six months although some areas are yet to be completed, such as repainting the exterior.

Sir Michael Stevens, Keeper of the Privy Purse, said: “The property had not been the subject of work for some years and had already been earmarked for renovation in line with our responsibility to maintain the condition of the occupied royal palaces estate.”

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge also carried out renovations before moving into their Kensington Palace home, spending more than £4m on converting offices into an apartment.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Duke and Duchess of Sussex moved to Frogmore Cottage in April

Taxpayer-funded spending on the royals has been a sensitive topic for decades.

That’s why Palace officials went out of their way to explain how much had to be done to Frogmore Cottage, and how anything over basic fixtures and fittings would be paid for by the couple themselves.

The Sovereign Grant is to cover the cost of official duties and for the upkeep of royal palaces.

However, some will ask, why did the couple have to move out of Kensington Palace?

And why, if they felt that strongly about it, didn’t they pay for the refurbishment of the house in Windsor themselves?

The Royal Family’s “core” sovereign grant is based on 15% of the net surplus of the Crown Estate, and allocated two years in arrears.

From 2017-18, the total grant was increased to 25% of the surplus for a 10-year period – with the extra funding intended to meet the £369m costs of refurbishing Buckingham Palace.

Excluding money transferred to reserves for future building work at the palace, the Queen’s official expenses last year were £67m, a 41% year-on-year increase, the figures show.

A large amount of the rise was due to the ongoing renovation at Buckingham Palace, and work on the other occupied royal residences.

The campaign group Republic questioned why money had been spent on Frogmore Cottage at a time while public services were under financial pressure.

Graham Smith, from Republic, called for a parliamentary inquiry into royal spending, adding: “The general funds of the Treasury should not be spent on individual members of the royal family at all – even if we had all the money to spend on public services it should not be happening.”

What is the Crown Estate?

  • An independent commercial property business and one of the largest property portfolios in the UK
  • The majority of assets are in London, but the estate also owns property in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland
  • Holdings include Windsor Great Park and Ascot racecourse, but most of the portfolio is made up of residential property, commercial offices, shops, businesses and retail parks
  • Managed by an independent organisation, with any profit paid to the Treasury for the benefit of all UK taxpayers
  • Dates back from the time of the Norman Conquest
  • Has been managed on behalf of the government since 1760 when George III handed over its running in return for an annual payment
  • Funds the Sovereign Grant which supports the official duties of the Queen and maintains the occupied royal palaces

The royal accounts show the cost of the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall’s official travel by air and rail funded by the Sovereign Grant rose by almost a third last year to £1.3m, as the couple took on more royal duties from the Queen.

The report said there was a 98% increase in carbon emissions from flights used on official royal visits overseas in 2018-19 – going up to 3,344 tonnes of CO2 from 1,687.

Buckingham Palace said the rise was “due to higher usage of chartered large fixed wing aircraft for foreign business travel”, adding there was five such overseas visits in 2018-19 compared to one the previous year. Harry and Meghan’s home cost taxpayers £2.4m

The trips are decided by the Foreign Office.

The accounts also reveal the Duke of Edinburgh maintains an office with a private secretary and receives £359,000 annuity from the Treasury. Despite retiring from public duties in 2017, Prince Philip has an official relationship with hundreds of organisations and charities.

Separately, the Prince of Wales pays for the public duties of Prince Harry and Meghan and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and some of their private costs, out of his Duchy of Cornwall income.

Accounts from Clarence House show this funding – in the year Meghan officially joined the Royal Family – stood at just over £5m, up 1.8% on 2017-18.

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Southern Water penalised for ‘shocking’ spills

A generic image of water treatment Image copyright Getty Images

Southern Water has been hit with a record £126m punishment for spills of wastewater into the environment from its sewage plants and for deliberately misreporting its performance.

The penalty will see customers get a rebate of at least £61 each.

“What we found in this case is shocking,” said Rachel Fletcher, the head of water regulator Ofwat, while Southern said it was “deeply sorry”.

The Environment Agency has launched a criminal investigation into the case.

The Agency has the power to take court action if companies’ actions hurt the natural environment.

“We are pursuing our own criminal investigation into Southern Water due to suspected permit breaches at a number of its sites,” the EA said in a statement.

It added that it expected to start court proceedings “soon”.

When will customers receive any money?

Under the agreement with Ofwat, each customer will receive at least £17 in 2021 and at least £11 per year for the following four years.

Southern will pay a total of £123m to customers, as well as a fine of £3m.

Ofwat said that proportionate to the size of the business, the penalty for the failings – which took place between 2010 and 2017 – was the biggest it has ever imposed.

It added the total would have been bigger if Southern had not co-operated with its investigation and addressed its errors.

What exactly did Southern do wrong?

Southern’s failings included not making the necessary investment, which led to equipment failures, and spills of wastewater.

Ofwat also found the company manipulated its wastewater sampling process, which meant it misreported information about the performance of a number of sewage treatment sites.

As a result of the misreporting, it avoided penalties under Ofwat’s incentive regime.

However, £91m of the £123m it is now having to pay to customers makes up for this.

Ofwat would not say where the spillages took place.

Southern operates in the south-east of England, serving customers in Kent, Sussex, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

It is not the first time Southern has been punished for misreporting information about its performance.

In 2007, Ofwat fined the company £20.3m after its actions meant it could raise its prices by more than it should have done.

What has the reaction been?

Ms Fletcher said the findings showed “the company was being run with scant regard for its responsibilities to society and the environment”.

“It was not just the poor operational performance, but the co-ordinated efforts to hide and deceive customers of the fact that are so troubling,” she added.

“The previous management failed to stamp out this behaviour and failed to manage its plants properly. In doing so, Southern Water let down its customers and operated in a way completely counter to the public service ethos we expect.”

Southern Water’s current chief executive, Ian McAulay, who was appointed in 2017, said: “There are no excuses for the failings that occurred.

“We have clearly fallen far short of the expectations and trust placed in us by our wastewater customers and the wider communities we serve.

“We are fully committed to the fast pace of change delivered since 2017. There is a lot more work to do but we’re pleased that this proposal agreed with Ofwat enables us to fully make amends to our customers and regain their trust as quickly as possible.”

Southern Water is owned by Greensands Investments Limited, a consortium of pension and infrastructure funds which came together in 2007.

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