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BBC to pay ‘substantial’ damages to Ukrainian President

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The BBC has agreed to pay a “substantial” sum of licence fee payers’ money, to the president of the Ukraine over false allegations.

The BBC claimed that Petro Poroshenko had procured or authorised a corrupt payment, to arrange talks with President Donald Trump.

Poroshenko took legal action over reports the BBC said Michael Cohen Trumps former lawyer received a payment of £300,000 to extend an arranged meeting in 2017.

The false claim made by the BBC was headline news on the News At Ten on 23 May 2018, and also on their website, the High Court in London was told on Thursday.

MR Justice Julian Knowles was told at the High Court that Poroshenko has accepted an apology along with “a substantial sum by way of compensation,” from the BBC and also publish a correction and agreed to pay his legal costs.

Graham Atkins, Poroshenko’s solicitor said, “Mr Poroshenko did not authorise or procure any payment to Mr Cohen of any kind, nor was any such payment ever made to Mr Cohen or any other individuals for that purpose.

“Mr Poroshenko did not instruct close associates to open up any back channel with Mr Trump in order to secure substantial talks with him, far less did he do so through Mr Cohen.

Atkins told the court Poroshenko “deeply regrets that it took the BBC so long to accept liability” and to remove the article from thei website.

He added, “He believes that the resulting delay will inevitably have increased the damage caused to his reputation by the publication of this allegation.

“It has certainly added to the distress and embarrassment that he has felt since the story was first published.

“The allegation that Mr Poroshenko was guilty of serious corruption is self-evidently an extremely grave and damaging one… especially so given the emphasis which he has chosen to place during his presidency on the promotion of a number of anti-corruption measures.”

He said the BBC’s reports were “clearly likely to undermine the hard work undertaken by the president during his time in office, and to cause him very considerable political embarrassment not only in Ukraine, but in the United Kingdom and across the global stage.

“In this connection it is relevant that inevitably, given the serious and sensational nature of the allegation (especially as it also related to the US president, Mr Trump), and the prominence given to it by the BBC, the allegation was picked up and republished in other media publications.”

Jane Phillips, counsel for the BBC said, “The BBC is happy to acknowledge that these claims about the claimant are completely untrue, and it is here, through me, to apologise to the claimant for any distress and embarrassment caused to him by the article and the broadcast.”




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