City forensic accountants Lee & Allen have been commissioned to investigate just how damaging a BBC report, incorrectly linking the mining company Oryx to Osama bin Laden's terrorist network, has been to the company's business.
Oryx Group’s deputy managing director Geoffrey White has confirmed the company is suing the BBC despite an unprecedented apology issued by the television giant in its prime-time 10 O’Clock news last Wednesday.
White told Accountancy Age the privately-owned company appointed Lee & Allen ten days ago to determine how much the negative publicity of the report has hurt its business. He added: ‘It’s had a direct impact.’
The report had an affect on both a subsidiary and the group as a whole, according to White. ‘If one of the companies of the group has this sort of publicity, it has a bearing on the whole group.’
Although he said the apology was ‘a first step,’ it is impossible to gauge the impact the BBC report could have on Oryx. ‘In today’s age,’ he said, ‘the BBC report will be in the media world forever, irrespective of the apology.’
He added the BBC was trying to find where the story originated and there was ‘absolutely no evidence on the facts behind the BBC story’.
The corporation had said frontmen in the al-Qaeda terrorist network owned shares in Oryx Natural Resources and confused shareholder Kamal Khal Fhan with terrorist Mohammed Khalfan, in jail for the 1998 bombings of American embassies in Africa.
Later, the BBC issued an unreserved apology, believed to have been ordered by director-general Greg Dyke: ‘We were wrong about both Oryx and Mr Khalfan. His Excellency Kamal Khalfan, is a respected Omani businessman and an Honorary Consul of the Sultanate of Oman. He is not the convicted terrorist.’
The BBC said an internal investigation is ongoing and could not comment beyond the apology. No one at Lee & Allen was available for comment.