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Saturday 6th June 2020

Girlfriend of tragic Benefits Street star Fungi says he was 'exploited by TV bosses'

Should have helped him

The girlfriend of tragic Benefits Street star Fungi has said that he was 'exploited' by TV bosses.

Fifty-year-old Fungi - whose real name was James Clarke - took his own life last week.

But now, his girlfriend Kerrie Tarbuck claims that he was treated badly during the controversial series.

Fungi was a star on the controversial show (Credit: Channel 4)

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Kerrie told The Mirror: "All they used to do was throw the odd fiver on the floor so he could get a drink. Otherwise, he got nothing from them.

"He was the main character and they made loads out of him through advertising.

They took advantage of him. They should have helped him get back on his feet

"They took advantage of him. They should have helped him get back on his feet," she said.

Benefits Street caused controversy (Credit: Channel 4)

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Channel 4 responded to Kerrie's claims with a statement to the paper insisting: "Fungi was categorically not given any cash to encourage him to behave a certain way.

"Filming followed strict protocols fulfilling the duty of care to Fungi in accordance with the Ofcom code."

Fungi rose to fame on the controversial Channel 4 show, which showed life on some of the UK's most benefits-dependent streets.

While co-star Dierdre 'White Dee' Kelly made TV appearances and 'cashed in', Fungi lost his job as a Big Issue seller and ended up living rough.

According to the reports, he took his own life following a battle with cancer.

The pal who found him claimed Fungi killed himself, left a note for his girlfriend and was in a lot of pain due to his illness.

Fungi was said to have been suffering from cancer (Credit: Channel 4)

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Dave Wilde, 52, said he hadn't seen James in a few days so decided to check on him.

He told The Mirror: "I took the door off and there he was. He left a note to his girlfriend Kerry saying how much he loved her and that she was his world but he did not want to her to see him go through pain and that he just had enough.

"It is just tragic no-one had checked on him to see if he was ok, but he was in a lot of pain with the cancer."

Speaking further, Dave said James was no longer taking drugs and was "doing really well" before his cancer diagnosis.

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