The BBC has apologised to Ukranian president Petro Poroshenko and agreed to pay him damages after wrongly claiming he had made a “corrupt payment” to extend talks with US President Donald Trump.
Poroshenko (pictured, left) brought the libel action over a News at Ten bulletin on 23 May last year and an online article published the same day, which has now been removed.
The BBC claimed Poroshenko had “procured or authorised a corrupt payment” of $400,000 (£300,000) to be made to Michael Cohen, Trump’s then-personal lawyer.
The purpose was for Cohen to extend a short meeting between Poroshenko and Trump in June 2017, which had already been arranged, into more substantial talks, the BBC reported.
Poroshenko said the reports suggested he was “guilty of serious corruption”.
The case was settled in London’s High Court today.
The BBC said it settled following a ruling by a High Court judge last month that “the presentation of evidence is entirely one-sided” in its reports and that “the ordinary reasonable viewer/reader would not find any basis on which to exclude the claimant from involvement” in the payment.
In a statement published today, the corporation said: “We believed that the publications made a less serious allegation against Mr Poroshenko, but in the light of a finding by the High Court… we are happy to accept that this allegation was untrue.
“We apologise to Mr Poroshenko for any distress caused and have agreed to pay him damages, legal costs and have participated in a joint statement in open court.”
Picture: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst