Three Contestants Kicked Off Simon Cowell TV Show after Background Checks Reveal Criminal Pasts and Inconsistencies

According to reports from the British newspaper The Sun, Simon Cowell – famous for his role as a hard-to-please talent judge on the TV show ‘American Idol’ – has dropped three contestants from his British TV show ‘Red or Black?’ after performing criminal background checks on all contestants. The Sun reports two of the contestants who were kicked off the show had criminal records while the third had “inconsistencies” in the background check. Cowell had ordered the background checks when it was discovered that a man who won £1 million pounds (approximately $1.6 million dollars) on the series had once served over two years in jail for assaulting another man.

The former winner – who admitted to The Sun he “was an idiot” for committing the assault – claims that the man he assaulted had first threatened to beat him up and out of frustration he broke into the man’s house and beat him up. While the former winner was allowed to keep his winnings, the negative publicity generated by the story forced the show’s producer, ITV, to take a second look at the background checks of the current contestants. According to The Sun, ‘Red or Black?’ is a casino-style game show featuring contestants guessing between red and black in a series of rounds in order to advance to the final round, which features a giant roulette wheel divided into red and black sections.

Whether for a TV show or any other type of business, criminal background checks have become common in many workplaces, especially in the United States. As reported earlier on the ESR News blog, a survey from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) – ‘Background Checking: Conducting Criminal Background Checks’ – revealed that about three out of four U.S. businesses (73 percent) conducted criminal background checks for all job candidates. As for which job categories those organizations chose to conduct criminal background checks for, the survey revealed 78 percent of candidates for positions with fiduciary and financial responsibility underwent background checks.

Organizations responding to the SHRM survey indicated that the following policies and procedures were in place for conducting criminal background checks on job candidates:

  • 95% had notified candidates that any false or intentionally misleading information provided in the application process was grounds for retracting job offers;
  • 91% had policies that no criminal background checks were conducted without signed consent from the candidates;
  • 89% had policies that only designated personnel would have access to criminal background check information;
  • 78% had written policies for employees to follow regarding conducting criminal background checks.

For more information on how employers can conduct an effective criminal background checks, visit Employment Screening Resources (ESR) – a U.S. background check company located in the San Francisco, California area and accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) – at

About Employment Screening Resources (ESR):
Employment Screening Resources (ESR) literally wrote the book on background screening with “The Safe Hiring Manual” by ESR founder and President Lester Rosen. ESR streamlines the screening process and reduces administrative overhead though its proprietary technology solutions.  ESR is one of a select few firms accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®). This important recognition was achieved by successfully passing a third party audit demonstrating compliance with the NAPBS Background Screening Agency Accreditation Program. By choosing an accredited screening firm like ESR, employers know they have selected an agency that meets the highest industry standards. For more information about ESR, visit