Rylan Clark recalls ‘horrendous’ experience after rape of fellow X Factor star

Rylan Clark has described the period after fellow X Factor contestant Lucy Spraggan was raped in her hotel room while competing on the ITV talent show as “horrendous”.

Last year, Spraggan revealed in a memoir that she was attacked by a hotel porter in 2012 after a night out celebrating contestant Clark’s 24th birthday at a Mayfair nightclub, which was attended by members of the X Factor production team.

Clark said he had kept details regarding the incident “quiet” for 11 years.

Emeralds and Ivy Ball – London
Former X Factor contestants Lucy Spraggan and Rylan Clark (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

“That was a really, really tough time. It was horrendous and I’ve still not spoken about it because it’s not my story to tell, even though I was part of it,” he told the Guardian.

“As a 24-year-old, it was the night of my birthday, to wake up to your friend saying, ‘I was raped last night’, while being on the biggest show in the country while being followed by the press wherever you go…I don’t know how I did it.”

Clark said Spraggan called him Jessica Fletcher – Dame Angela Lansbury’s character in Murder, She Wrote – because he leapt into action, telling TV researchers to “go and get the bosses” and enforcing the bedroom was not cleaned by hotel staff to preserve the crime scene.

“I became like a crime detective and I don’t know why that was,” the 35-year-old said.

Spraggan’s memoir titled Process: Finding My Way Through said the TV production team called the police and an arrest was quickly made, but she believed they were “unprepared” to deal with what had happened.

Clark said: “There was a lot that could have been improved. I think everyone learned loads from those kind of mistakes, but I don’t think it was anyone’s fault other than the man who raped Lucy.”

“I’ve worked on reality shows for 12 years now, and I’ve seen the change in duty of care. It’s everyone’s priority now,” he said.

He also spoke about the criticism he received online for his extravagant performances during this time.

“I had to get up on stage in front of 12 million people singing f****** Madonna while dressed as a drag queen while I’m dealing with that.

“I hope you feel ashamed of yourselves,” he added.

Spraggan left The X Factor, which was won that year by James Arthur, during the live shows citing illness, but revealed in her memoir that it was actually due to the side effects of a drug used to prevent HIV making her too unwell to continue in the days after the assault.

The X Factor
Lucy Spraggan revealed that she had to leave the show due to the side effects of a drug used to prevent HIV following her assault (Ken McKay/PA)

She went on to have two top-10 albums in the UK charts with Join The Club reaching seven in 2013 and Choices peaking at five in 2021.

A spokesperson for Fremantle, the British TV company that produced The X Factor for ITV under its Thames TV entertainment arm, previously said: “The serious sexual assault suffered by Lucy Spraggan in October 2012 was a truly horrific criminal act for which the perpetrator, who was not connected with the programme, was rightfully prosecuted and imprisoned.

“Anyone should feel safe when they are sleeping in a hotel room and it is abhorrent to think that a hotel porter abused that trust in such a vile way.

“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.”