Tory to sue BBC NI over Brexit pro­gramme

Belfast Telegraph - - NEWS - BY STAFF REPORTER

FOR­MER Scot­tish Con­ser­va­tive Party Vice Chair­man Richard Cook has in­structed lawyers fol­low­ing a BBCNI Spot­light pro­gramme en­ti­tled Brexit, Dark Money And The DUP.

The Spot­light pro­gramme ex­am­ined Mr Cook’s role in a £435,000 do­na­tion re­ceived by the DUP dur­ing the Brexit ref­er­en­dum cam­paign.

The cash was used to pay for pro-Brexit news­pa­per ad­ver­tis­ing cam­paign­ing out­side North­ern Ire­land.

The BBC Spot­light in­ves­ti­ga­tion, which was broad­cast in June this year, was pre­sented by Jim Fitz­patrick.

Mr Cook is the chair­man of the Con­sti­tu­tional Re­search Coun­cil which made the do­na­tion to the DUP.

He is an in­ter­na­tional ad­viser in waste man­age­ment and en­ergy.

In a state­ment is­sued yes­ter­day, Mr Cook’s le­gal ad­viser, Pro­fes­sor Peter Wat­son of Glas­gow-based PWB Law, told re­porters: “The BBC doc­u­men­tary is defam­a­tory.

“Coun­sel have been in­structed and all who choose to re­peat the al­le­ga­tions will also be sub­ject to pro­ceed­ings.”

A BBC spokesper­son said last

Con­tro­versy: Richard Cook and (right) pre­sen­ter Jim Fitz­patrick night: “We stand by our jour­nal­ism. We are not aware of re­ceiv­ing any cor­re­spon­dence from Mr Cook’s lawyers since the pro­gramme was broad­cast.

“The pro­gramme was made in ac­cor­dance with our edi­to­rial guide­lines.”

Spot­light is BBC North­ern Ire­land’s flag­ship cur­rent af­fairs pro­gramme.

Over its 40-year history, the pro­gramme has won many broad­cast­ing in­dus­try awards for its work, in­clud­ing a 2017 Royal Tele­vi­sion So­ci­ety award for its probe into con­tro­ver­sial NI prop­erty loans con­nected with the Irish Na­tional As­sets Man­age­ment Agency (Nama).

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