BBC in libel payout over false Panorama claims

An Italian company has accepted substantial compensation from the BBC over a Panorama programme alleging it sold blood products infected with deadly diseases.

Father and son Guelfo and Paolo Marcucci, who own and control the Marcucci Group of companies, sued over an October 2006 documentary called The Price of Blood.

The programme contained damaging and untrue allegations, their solicitor-advocate, Graham Atkins, told Mr Justice Eady at the High Court.

The programme referred to a criminal prosecution brought in Italy against the claimants and others relating to the production of some of their blood products dating back to the mid-1990s.

Although it correctly reported that the proceedings were dismissed at the preliminary stage and they were acquitted of the charges against them, it nevertheless suggested that the claimants were guilty of having sold blood products infected with diseases such as HIV or Hepatitis C which could result in death.

Atkins said the BBC now accepted that the allegations were untrue, apologised and has agreed to pay a substantial sum in compensation and legal fees.

Clare Kissin, for the BBC, said it did not intend to allege that the claimants had sold or distributed infected blood derivative products or that they had endangered lives.

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