Ukrainian president sues BBC for libel over claim he paid to meet Donald Trump – media

14:58, 21 September 2018
Politics
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REUTERS

Lawyers for President Petro Poroshenko said the allegation is untrue and "strikes at the core of his personal dignity and integrity," according to The Telegraph.

The BBC story claimed that intermediaries acting for Mr. Poroshenko made a secret payment to Michael Cohen, then Mr. Trump's personal lawyer, to set up talks between the two leaders.

Read alsoPoroshenko's administration denies media reports that first meeting with Trump "paid by Ukraine"

It alleged that, through official channels, Mr. Poroshenko had been able to secure only "an embarrassingly brief few minutes of small talk and a handshake" with the U.S. president, and that he wanted more.

The two men met in June 2017 for what Mr. Poroshenko later described as a "substantial visit" during which they discussed military cooperation.

The report was broadcast on BBC One's flagship News at Ten bulletin on May 23 this year and given a prominent place on the BBC website.

In a High Court claim, lawyers for Mr. Poroshenko say the allegation was particularly damaging because he is actively involved in promoting anti-corruption measures in Ukraine.

Mr. Poroshenko "has been seriously injured in his reputation and has been caused substantial distress and embarrassment," the claim reads.

"The allegation that the Claimant was guilty of serious corruption is self-evidently an extremely grave and serious one..."

"It has also caused him considerable distress and embarrassment since the allegation strikes at the core of his personal dignity and integrity."

The claim asserts that the BBC had "no evidence of any payment or secret talks" and that it "chose to publish this hugely serious and damaging allegation despite its journalists having been repeatedly told by those alleged to be involved that it was completely untrue, and that there had been no payment and no back-channel talks."

It said the BBC has refused to publish a correction or apology, and the story remains available on the BBC website.

The corporation has dealt with Mr. Poroshenko's complaint in a "dismissive and arrogant manner," the claim adds.

Cohen, for a decade Mr. Trump's lawyer and fixer, is awaiting sentence after pleading guilty to eight counts of tax evasion, making false statements to a bank and campaign finance violations.

A BBC spokesman said: "We cannot comment on this ongoing case."

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