Former X Factor contestant Lucy Spraggan has revealed she left the ITV talent show after being raped.
The singer – who had been a favourite to win in 2012 – suddenly quit the show during its live rounds, with programme-makers telling the public her departure was due to “illness”.
But the 31-year-old has now waived her legal right to anonymity, which is granted to all rape victims, to speak out about her ordeal.
Spraggan was 20 years old at the time of the attack, which she said was carried out by a hotel porter following a night out with fellow contestants.
In the aftermath, she was advised to take medication to prevent HIV infection – but it made her so ill she was forced to leave the X Factor, which was won that year by James Arthur.
The singer said she had wanted to go public at the time, but was warned it might affect her future career.
Spraggan later went on to have success in the music industry with two top-10 albums. Her release Join The Club reached seven in the charts in 2013, while Choices peaked at number five in 2021.
But she said she was tired of not being honest with fans and wanted to speak out now because “in order for me to rebuild myself and move on, I needed to tell the truth”.
Detailing the rape in her new memoir, Process: Finding My Way Through, the singer said she had earlier been on a night out in London celebrating fellow contestant Rylan Clark’s 25th birthday at Mayfair nightclub Mahiki.
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But, after being given free alcohol, she fell unconscious and was escorted back to her hotel by a member of the production team, where a porter offered to help get her to her room.
Clark then came to her room to check she was OK and make sure the room was locked, Spraggan said.
However, the porter later returned with a keycard to unlock the door and attack her.
She wrote: “I woke up the next day with this sense of sheer dread. I don’t think I’ve ever felt that level of confusion since.
“I knew that I’d been raped, but I could not process that. So I put my clothes on and went into autopilot.”
The production team quickly called the police and an arrest was made within hours.
The hotel staffer later pleaded guilty and was jailed.
‘No one ever asked if I was OK’
Spraggan said she felt let down by programme-makers and accused them of being “unprepared” to deal with what happened.
She received both financial and medical support in the immediate aftermath, but said she was not given any further support after her attacker was convicted.
Writing in her memoir, Spraggan said: “No one ever contacted me to ask if I was OK.
“No one called or emailed when the trial was over and he was convicted. No one offered me rehabilitation or ongoing mental health treatment. I was on my own.”
She also told the Guardian: “It was inappropriate for anybody – including contestants – to be drunk.
“How can you fulfil your duty of care when free alcohol is involved?”
Spraggan is the latest in a string of ex-reality TV stars, including former X Factor singer Rebecca Ferguson, to express concern about the treatment of contestants.
X Factor creator Simon Cowell, who was absent from 2012 series because he was filming America’s Got Talent in the US, said in a statement: “What happened to Lucy was horrific and heartbreaking.
“When I was given the opportunity to speak to Lucy, I was able to personally tell her how sorry I was about everything she has been through.
“Although we met under tragic circumstances, a genuine friendship and a mutual respect has developed between us. Lucy is one of the most authentic, talented, and brave people I have ever met.
“Since we connected, I have had the honour to work with Lucy and I have always supported her wish to tell her story, as well as her efforts to bring about positive change.”
‘We are extremely sorry’
A spokesperson for Fremantle, the British TV company that produced The X Factor for ITV, said: “To our knowledge, the assault was an event without precedent in the UK television industry.
“Whilst we believed throughout that we were doing our best to support Lucy in the aftermath of the ordeal, as Lucy thinks we could have done more, we must therefore recognise this.
“For everything Lucy has suffered, we are extremely sorry. Since then, we have done our very best to learn lessons from these events and improve our aftercare processes.
“Whilst we have worked hard to try and protect Lucy’s lifetime right to anonymity, we applaud her strength and bravery now that she has chosen to waive that right.”