BBC1 and Radio Times in libel payout over fraud claim

A Manchester dental technician today accepted a formal apology and £50,000 damages from the BBC at London’s High Court, over allegations he had been charged with car finance fraud.

Mohammed Amar, 33, who practises at a dental implant firm, sued for libel and breach of privacy over the BBC One programme “Cars, Cops and Criminals”, broadcast on 9 July 2008 and repeated on 15 July, as well as its listing in the Radio Times edition of 5-11 July.

Now, in settlement of his claim, the BBC has agreed to apologise and pay him £50,000 plus his legal costs.

At a brief hearing before High Court judge Mr Justice David Eady today, Amar’s counsel Victoria Shore said that the programme showed a police raid in her client’s home and his subsequent arrest.

She continued: ‘Mr Amar was identified by name and his face shown. The programme stated that Mr Amar had been charged with offences relating to car finance fraud and conveyed the meaning that Mr Amar was guilty of involvement in car fraud.’

She said that in its listing for the programme, the Radio Times printed a photograph of Amar.

She continued: ‘Although his face was concealed by his cap he may have been identifiable by readers who had also watched the programme.

“To such readers the caption to the photograph conveyed the meaning that Mr Amar was a thief and that he was involved in car finance fraud.

‘Mr Amar was not in fact charged with any offence but rather was released the same day as his arrest. The allegation that he was a thief involved in car fraud was completely untrue.”

Jacob Dean, counsel for the BBC, added: ‘The BBC wishes to apologise to Mr Amar for the damage to his reputation and the distress which the programme, including the footage of inside his home, and Radio Times publication has caused him.’

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