ITN bosses may be regretting their blizzard of libel writs against Living Marxism, the obscure mag of the Revolutionary Communist Party, which has claimed that the famous TV pictures of emaciated inmates at the Trnopolje and Omarska camps during the Bosnian war were a hoax.
By its heavy-handed litigation, ITN has merely given far more publicity to a story which would otherwise have sunk without trace. Worse still, it has allowed the Living Marxism crew to present themselves as persecuted martyrs.
At a fund-raising event for the mag two weeks ago, LM editor Mick Hume promised to screen "the unedited ITN footage". But in fact his little movie show lasted for only about 12 minutes. Asked about this by a group of puzzled journalism students, Hume explained that it was "impractical" to show the whole film as it was seven hours long. When he admitted that the footage had been cut, and its sequence rearranged, the students were even more puzzled, wondering how he could describe it as "unedited".
What was the response of the man who, only half an hour before, had attacked ITN for stifling debate? "I don't have time for questions like this," he snapped, before turning and disappearing into the throng.
Also present at the meeting was Thomas Deichmann, author of the original Living Marxism article, billed as a prominent German journalist and expert on the Balkans who had given evidence to the War Crimes Tribunal.
Deichmann did indeed appear before the tribunal - as a defence witness for the Bosnian Serbs accused of genocide. But his expertise is pretty slender. Until 1993 he was a civil engineer in Frankfurt, but then decided to set himself up as a "journalist". Since 1994, he told the tribunal, he had worked for the London International Research Exchange, studying the coverage of the war in Bosnia. His main contact at the Exchange was one Philip Hammond, described as a "media specialist" who provided Deichmann with much useful information and advice.
Very impressive - except that the London International Research Exchange, which isn't listed in any telephone directory, is actually an offshoot of the Revolutionary Communist Party. And the great "media specialist" Philip Hammond, whose in-depth research was so invaluable to Deichmann, turns out to be the circulation manager of...Living Marxism.