Page last updated at 17:39 GMT, Wednesday, 8 October 2008 18:39 UK

BBC ordered to pay 500,000 costs

Mr Mohammed Taranissi
Mohamed Taranissi says a programme made defamatory allegations

The BBC has been ordered by the High Court to pay an estimated 500,000 in costs to IVF specialist Mohamed Taranissi in an ongoing libel action.

Mr Taranissi says a Panorama programme in January 2007 made defamatory allegations about his techniques.

Mr Justice Eady said he was entitled in principle to payment of costs.

It came after the BBC, which denies libel, withdrew part of its defence of qualified privilege for responsible journalism in the public interest.

Mr Taranissi's counsel, Richard Rampton QC, said the BBC had withdrawn the defence after 14 months and hundreds of thousands of pounds being incurred.

"It follows as a matter of justice, as night follows day, that they should pay that," he said

Libel trial

The BBC's QC, Adrienne Page, said the payment of costs should wait until the case had finished.

She said: "All this order can do is create the very real and substantial risk that there will be an injustice to the BBC in the event, which the court must assume is a real possibility, that they succeed in the justification defence."

She told the court the BBC stood fully behind both its journalists and the programme, which was titled IVF Undercover.

Mr Taranissi said he was very pleased the BBC had withdrawn what he called "this major part of its defence".

Later, the BBC said it had chosen not to run the secondary part of its defence because it might have led to its sources for the programme being identified.

Mr Taranissi's claim is due to be tried by a judge sitting without a jury in January. The BBC, which is still claiming the defence of justification, withdrew its "Reynolds" defence last month.

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