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April 1997

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[Press Gazette - 25 April 1997]

ITN accepts apology and costs over Bosnia allegations by Nicola Methven

ITN has accepted an apology and costs in the High Court over allegations about its Bosnian coverage, which were contained in a press release distributed by Two-Ten Communications on behalf of Living Marxism magazine.

PA-owned Two-Ten put out the press release on its UNS service in January. It contained allegations about correspondents Penny Marshall and Ian Williams which ITN claims were wholly untrue.

In court ITN's solicitor Katherine Rimell said the release had referred to a widely broadcast picture from the ITN reports of August 1992 showing an emaciated Bosnian Muslim behind barbed wire at Trnopolje camp, and claimed the picture had been created by use of camera angles and had fooled the world.

She said the piece also accused Marshall and Williams of concealing the truth about the image from the rest of the world, and claimed they had perpetrated a gross deception on the public by deliberately and dishonestly fabricating the news and concealing what they had done.

The release also claimed there was no barbed wire fence surrounding the camp at Trnopolje and that it was a refugee centre, not a prison.

Rimell said the allegations of deception were completely untrue and the reports were accurate and impartial. She added that subsequent UN investigations had shown that Trnopolje was indeed a concentration camp.

In a statement, ITN said it accepted the apology and welcomed the fact that the PR company had admitted the allegations made were defamatory.

It said: 'As a media organisation ITN and its correspondents have taken legal action against Living Marxism 's libels with reluctance. We and our journalists are proud of our reputation for fairness and accuracy and Living Marxism's untrue allegations were too serious to be allowed to go unchallenged'.

Solicitor for Two-Ten, Karen Mason, pointed out that Two-Ten distributed press releases word for word without any editorial input or amendment.

Living Marxism is being sued by ITN over its story, written by German journalist Thomas Deichmann.

Editor Mick Hume said that the apology had no bearing on the issues at stake in LM's own libel battle with ITN.

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