PwC to assess damages in BBC libel case

A spokesman from Oryx today told the Big Four firm had been appointed by the court after the BBC’s nine-month defence collapsed yesterday.

Oryx launched the libel lawsuit last November after the BBC mistakenly accused one of the company’s directors of links with Osama Bin Laden and the Al-Quaeda network.

The BBC apologised for the mistake three weeks later, but Oryx said the apology was too late and the damage had been done. Oryx said because of the report, its credit lines dried up overnight, it had to close a mine and it had problems with its suppliers.

It is understood a six-figure sum was awarded to Oryx following the case. PwC will assess the damages awarded to the company – press reports estimated the damages to be around £10m.

Oryx deputy managing director Geoffrey White said: ‘The broadcast injured Oryx. Our reputation suffered ad we sustained enormous financial damage. The BBC will now have to compensate.

‘The BBC never had a shred of evidence for its broadcast. It has now also accepted that it acted irresponsibly.’

James Libson, partner at Mishcon de Reya, the law firm representing Oryx, added: ‘It is difficult to imagine a more serious libel than to accuse a business of being associated with terrorism. From the moment the BBC broadcast its Special Report, my client has been fighting to clear its name and recover damages for its loss.’

In a statement, the BBC said: ‘The BBC apologised in November 2001 and have now agreed with Oryx that the only issue which needed to be decided by the court is the question of damages. Judgment was, therefore, entered by agreement between the BBC and Oryx. Oryx say they have sustained ‘enormous financial damage’ which the BBC will have to pay for. However, their case on financial loss keeps changing and is riddled with inconsistencies. They have failed to provide us with anything like enough evidence to support their claim – we consider the amount claimed highly speculative and without any real foundation. We are fighting the case on financial loss and will continue to do so. The case has been listed for a 3-4 week trial in January.’

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