LM press releases
23 APRIL 1997
'WE HAVE NOT APOLOGISED TO ITN OR ANYBODY ELSE. WE STAND BY OUR
STORY. THE BATTLE HAS ONLY JUST BEGUN.' Mick Hume, Editor, LM Magazine
ITN and its friends in the press have recently tried to create
the impression that they have won the legal battle over Thomas
Deichmann's article 'The Picture That Fooled The World', published
in the February issue of LM Magazine. Dream on.
LM has not backed down before ITN's threats. LM has not issued any apology to anybody. LM's battle against ITN's libel writs and gagging orders is only
just beginning. And the LM libel appeal, The Off The Fence Fund, still needs all the help
it can get to win the fight for press freedom.
The truth about the recent developments in the case is this. LM is continuing to fight the libel writs which ITN has issued against
its editor and publisher, over Thomas Deichmann's revelations
about ITN's award-winning reports from a Bosnian camp. The only
case which has been settled is a minor sideshow, involving a separate
libel writ which ITN issued against a company that distributed
an LM press release in January.
On 17 April, Two-Ten Communications (a subsidiary of the Press
Association) issued a High Court apology to ITN and two of its
journalists, over allegations made in a Living Marxism press release promoting Thomas Deichmann's article. The Two-Ten
case was reported in the Guardian, The Times and on Ceefax and Sky Text in terms which gave the clear impression
that ITN had won a major legal battle over Deichmann's allegations.
But there was no legal battle. Two-Ten Communications' lawyers
offered no defence. They simply made a short, formal apology (but
paid no damages), and then ITN's lawyers read out a lengthy statement
giving their own version of what happened at Trnopolje camp on
5 August 1992. The court made no examination whatsoever of Thomas
Deichmann's counter evidence, and no jury passed judgement on
who was telling the truth.
Two-Ten Communications is only a commercial distributor of press
releases which, as its own solicitor's courtroom statement makes
clear, 'does not make any comment or judgement on the content
of such press releases'. For Two-Ten, apologising to ITN was strictly
a business matter, to do with protecting commercial relations.
For LM Magazine, however, the battle against ITN's libel writs is an
issue of principle to do with defending press freedom, and opposing
the attempt of a mega news corporation to buy immunity from criticism
through the courts. That is why LM is continuing with its own defence and refusing to apologise.
As LM editor Mick Hume said after the Two-Ten case:
'Judgement as to who is telling the truth about the ITN reports
will have to wait until all the evidence is finally made public.
We have that evidence. We know we are right. And we repeat our
challenge to ITN: if you are so certain of your case, why not
show all of the film that your team shot at Trnopolje on 5 August
1992, and let the world judge for itself?
'ITN's purpose in pursuing its phoney war against Two-Ten has
been to establish a legal precedent, scare the rest of the media
off Thomas Deichmann's story, and create the false impression
that they have won. The result of this gagging order is that a
story which has been debated in serious papers across Europe remains
blockaded in Britain.
'One interesting piece of evidence has come out of the Two-Ten
case, however. If you read the ITN lawyer's statement in full,
you will see that ITN and its journalists have been forced to
admit, for the first time in almost five years since the reports
were first broadcast, that there was no barbed wire fence surrounding Fikret Alic and other men at Trnopolje camp. That concedes one of the central
points in Thomas Deichmann's argument about how their pictures
fooled the world. There will be many more such revelations before
the case is over.
'We stand by our story. Watch this space.'