March 28 2019

President Petro Poroshenko wins libel action against the BBC

President Poroshenko instructed Thomson Heath & Associates last year to sue the BBC for libel. We are very pleased to announce that the President has won his libel action against the BBC and the BBC has admitted liability in respect of the report that it broadcast as an “exclusive report” on the News at Ten, and published on its website, on 23 May 2018.

That report alleged that in 2017 the President had procured or authorised a corrupt payment of $400,000 to be made to Michael Cohen, the personal lawyer of Donald Trump, to extend a brief meeting between himself and President Trump, that had already been agreed, into more substantial talks. These allegations were wholly false and defamatory of President Poroshenko. The BBC claimed that this story was based on multiple sources, none of whom was named, but who were described as persons “with direct knowledge of the process” including a “high-ranking Ukrainian intelligence officer”.

Allegations of serious corruption are obviously extremely damaging, especially as the President has promoted a number of anti-corruption measures in the Ukraine, including creating an Anti-corruption court. The BBC’s story undermined this hard work and damaged his reputation across the globe.

The BBC has now formally accepted through its legal representatives that this allegation was false and completely untrue, and agreed to pay him £50,000 for the damage to his reputation, as well as his legal costs. They also agreed to join in a Statement in Open Court and to make a suitable correction and an apology to Mr Poroshenko on the BBC website.

President Poroshenko deeply regrets that it took the BBC so long to accept liability, and that it was only after the Court’s ruling in February that it removed the article from its website. He was concerned that the delay in the BBC accepting liability for its broadcast and publication damaged his reputation for such a long period of time. This victory, along with the public vindication in court today, will hopefully go some way to restoring his good name and reputation.

A Statement in Open Court was read in the High Court – Click here to read the Joint Statement in Open Court.

Graham Atkins was instructed by President Poroshenko, and worked together with Moritz Schirmeister of this firm. In addition David Sherborne and Justin Rushbrooke QC from specialist chambers 5RB advised on the case.

For further details please contact Mr Schirmeister on: or 0207 836 9300

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