TV journalist Cook wins libel battle

Investigative journalist Roger Cook today settled his High Court libel action over "devastating" claims that his TV series, The Cook Report, was a cynical sham.

Investigative journalist Roger Cook today settled his High Court libel action over "devastating" claims that his TV series, The Cook Report, was a cynical sham.

Mr Cook, together with Carlton Communications plc and Carlton Television Ltd, had brought proceedings against News Group Newspapers.

His solicitor, Ian Bloom, told Mr Justice Eady in London that Mr Cook had received many television industry awards - including one from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts in recognition of a quarter of a century of investigative reporting of outstanding quality.

His subjects had included child pornography, protection rackets in Northern Ireland, the ivory trade, war criminals in Bosnia and the Russian black market in plutonium.

Mr Bloom said that, in February and April 2000, The News of the World claimed that a number of Cook Report programmes had been faked and that the series was a cynical sham.

Members of the Cook Report team were accused of conspiring with crooks to set up crimes which Mr Cook could quickly solve.

He said that Mr Cook and Carlton understood that the articles were accusing them of being a party to the dishonest deception of viewers.

"These allegations were devastating for Mr Cook both professionally and personally," said Mr Bloom.

He added that the News of the World had sent its dossier of evidence to the Independent Television Commission which, in October 2001, decided that there was no evidence of fakery or breaches of the regulatory code by Mr Cook or his editors, producers, legal advisers and researchers.

Mr Bloom said that the parties had now agreed to resolve their differences without the need for a lengthy trial.

Whilst it was accepted that The News of the World believed that it had grounds to look into the matter, the newspaper now acknowledged that the articles contained material inaccuracies which should not have been published.

It accepted the outcome of the ITC investigation and had agreed not to republish the allegations complained of.

Julian Pike, solicitor for News Group Newspapers Ltd, said that the newspaper was happy to make it clear that it accepted that neither Mr Cook nor Carlton nor the editors, producers, legal advisers and researchers were a party to any deception.

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