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The BBC said in a statement Thursday that it had agreed to pay damages to Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko.
It all stemmed from a since-retracted report, published in May 2018,
that alleged Poroshenko had paid attorney Michael Cohen $400,000 to
secure access to President Donald Trump.
The BBC issued a statement announcing the damages and said it accepts its report was untrue.
Poroshenko’s lawyers had said the report caused their client “substantial distress and embarrassment.”
The BBC said, “We apologise to Mr Poroshenko for any distress caused.”
The BBC said it would to pay damages to Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko to make amends for erroneously claiming in a report that he paid $400,000 to President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, to secure access to the US president.
The BBC admitted in the statement that it “incorrectly reported” that Petro Poroshenko “had procured or authorised a corrupt payment of $400,000 to be made to Michael Cohen.”
It reported that the
payment was “to extend a brief meeting between Mr Poroshenko and
President Trump, that had already been agreed, into more substantial
According to the now retracted report, Poroshenko had
been able to secure only a handshake and few moments of small talk with
Trump after his election, and wanted more time with him. Cohen testifies to the House Oversight and Reform Committee on February 27, 2019. AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
The lawyers said Poroshenko had been “seriously injured in his
reputation and has been caused substantial distress and embarrassment.”
They said the false claim was particularly damaging because of
Poroshenko’s role in promoting anti-corruption measures in Ukraine.
The claim asserted 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.”
In its statement, the BBC said it accepted allegation of the payment “was untrue.”
“We apologise to Mr Poroshenko for any distress caused and have agreed
to pay him damages, legal costs and have participated in a joint
statement in open court,” it said.
Poroshenko, who has been Ukraine’s president since 2014, is up for reelection in a national vote this weekend.
Cohen’s relationship with Trump has collapsed since last May, with the
former attorney sentenced to three years in prison in December for
campaign-finance violations and lying to Congress, and denouncing his
former boss as a “liar” and “racist” in recent testimony to Congress.
Facing calls to resign from his Republican rivals, the chair of the US Congress’ house intelligence committee, Adam Schiff, responded by listing many of the ways the Trump campaign sought to cooperate with Russia.
All nine Republican members of the committee signed a letter calling
for Mr Schiff’s “immediate resignation”. They said he had promoted a
“demonstrably false narrative” by continuing to investigate the
president’s ties to Russia.
It came after a four-page summary of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report cleared Mr Trump’s presidential campaign of conspiring with Moscow and concluded there was insufficient evidence to charge the president with obstruction of justice.
The summary was written by Mr Trump’s hand-picked attorney general William Barr.
Republicans have since claimed the full report was a “complete exoneration” of Mr Trump, although on the issue of whether justice was obstructed, Mr Barr said the report says: “While this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”
Despite their apparent support for their president, many appear
reluctant to support making the full report public. Hundreds of pages
long, it is thought to contain details of Trump campaign communications
with Russian-linked individuals.
After Republican committee member Mike Conaway used the hearing
to read the letter out, Mr Schiff hit back, launching a long monologue
that began with a reference to a Trump Tower meeting in August 2016
attended by a number of Mr Trump’s campaign team.
Among those in attendance was Mr Trump’s son, Donald Jr and a Russian lawyer with links to the Kremlin.
“My colleagues may think it’s ok that the Russians offered dirt
on a Democratic candidate for president as part of what was described as
part of the Russian government’s effort to help the Trump campaign. You
might think that’s ok,” Mr Schiff said.
“My colleagues might think it’s ok when that was offered to the
son of the president – who had a pivotal role in the campaign – that the
president’s son did not call the FBI, he did not adamantly refuse that
foreign help. No instead that son said that he would ‘love’ the help of
Mr Schiff went on to list many of the other incidents of links with Russians or attempts to cooperate with them.
Among them was an offer by Mr Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, to give sensitive polling data to a man linked to Russian intelligence.
He also mentioned Mr Trump’s request to Russia during a campaign rally to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails.