Libel damages for Newsround presenter from Indy

A TV journalist has accepted substantial undisclosed libel damages over a claim that he had behaved in a sexually inappropriate manner on a documentary assignment.

BBC correspondent and former Newsround presenter Lizo Mzimba sued The Independent over a story which appeared in its Pandora column in October 2009.

It repeated false allegations which had previously appeared in The Tab, a Cambridge University student publication, his solicitor, Jonathan Coad, told Mr Justice Tugendhat at the High Court today.

These were that Mzimba became so visibly intoxicated when visiting the University for the BBC that he would have been incapable of carrying out his duties, that he had behaved in an unwelcome and sexually inappropriate manner, and had ended up being rightly humiliated by a group of students who, after securing him to a wall with gaffer-tape, verbally mocked him.

“In fact, not one of these allegations was true,” said Coad, adding that the newspaper added a further false statement in saying Mzimba had declined to comment, when in fact he had been given no indication that an urgent reply to an e-mail was required within hours or that publication was imminent.

“The Independent’s untrue assertions that Mr Mzimba had behaved in the way described, together with the equally false allegation that at the time he was on a BBC engagement funded by the public through the BBC licence fee, have caused serious damage to his reputation, as well as significant distress and embarrassment,” said Coad.

He added that The Independent had undertaken not to repeat the allegations and had paid Mzimba “substantial damages” and his legal costs.

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