The Scottish Mail on Sunday

Axed judge says Cowell put her life in danger by smoking

- By Katie Hind

SIMON COWELL is set to be sued by a fellow America’s Got Talent judge who claims he risked her health by smoking on set.

Actress Gabrielle Union, 47, is understood to be preparing a lawsuit accusing Cowell of ‘endangerin­g her life’ because of his habit.

She was axed from the show last November, sparking a racism row when she alleged production staff told her that her hairstyle and clothes were ‘too black’.

Ms Union also claimed that the working environmen­t on the talent show, which attracts around ten million viewers, was ‘toxic’.

Sources close to Miss Union say she has settled her dispute with America’s NBC network and Syco, Cowell’s entertainm­ent empire, over her departure.

But she furiously claims that Cowell exposed her to the dangers of passive smoking – so is planning the new lawsuit against him personally.

An insider told The Mail on Sunday: ‘Gabrielle was always cross that Simon would smoke when the cameras weren’t running.

‘For her, this is a big deal. She believes his smoking has put her life in danger. It can cause cancer and she doesn’t think she deserves to have been at risk when she was at work. This lawsuit will be sent to

Simon at any moment. She is determined to see this one through.’

Ms Union – who replaced former Spice Girl Mel B on the judges’ panel – has instructed formidable showbiz attorney Bryan Freedman, who has featured in a list of ‘power lawyers’ compiled by The Hollywood Reporter magazine for 12 consecutiv­e years.

California has strict anti-smoking laws that bans employers from ‘knowingly or intentiona­lly permitting... the smoking of tobacco products in an enclosed place of employment’.

Cowell has made no secret of his struggle to kick his habit which at one point saw him smoking up to 80 cigarettes a day.

He tried to quit in 2017 after a fall at his West London home but was seen puffing away the following year. At the time, he said: ‘If I tried to cut out cigarettes completely, I would have a real problem: too boring.’

His spokesman declined to comment last night on Ms Union’s new complaint.

NBC has yet to officially release the findings of its formal investigat­ion into Ms Union’s complaints about troubling behaviour on the set of American’s Got Talent, but the network has said it was taking them seriously.

 ??  ?? UNION ACTION: Gabrielle Union claims that Simon Cowell, above left, exposed her to passive smoking
UNION ACTION: Gabrielle Union claims that Simon Cowell, above left, exposed her to passive smoking
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