BBC apologises to Trafigura

Commodities trader accepts apology, damages and costs

Yesterday the BBC joined with Trafigura in a statement in open court withdrawing and apologising for allegations made against Trafigura on Newsnight.

The leading commodities trader Trafigura had brought a claim against the BBC over allegations made on Newsnight in May 2009 and in an associated article on the BBC’s website. The allegations concerned the discharge of gasoline “slops” in Abidjan in the Ivory Coast in August 2006. The slops were subsequently illegally dumped by a company independent of Trafigura, whose actions Trafigura has condemned. The BBC alleged that the slops caused a number of deaths, miscarriages and serious and long term injuries.

In the statement in open court the BBC stated that following its detailed review of the evidence, and of Trafigura’s Reply in the proceedings, it accepted the conclusions of the independent experts who had been unable to identify any link between the slops and the serious consequences alleged, and apologised for claiming otherwise. The apology was repeated as the first item on last night’s Newsnight. The BBC has agreed to pay £25,000 damages to a charity of Trafigura’s choice and Trafigura’s legal costs (to be assessed if not agreed).

5RB’s Desmond Browne QC and Jacob Dean (instructed by Carter-Ruck) acted for Trafigura and Jane Phillips acted for the BBC.