Bosnia war reporters win libel damages

 

The British broadcaster ITN and two of its reporters yesterday won a total of £375,000 High Court libel damages over a magazine's criticism of their coverage of the Bosnian war.

They said that an article, editorial and press release, published by LM in 1997, alleged that they misrepresented a a photograph of an emaciated Muslim, Fikret Alic.

ITN, Penny Marshall and Ian Williams claimed that the publications, headlined "The picture that fooled the world", amounted to a highly damaging attack upon their reputations and integrity.

The journalists were each awarded £150,000, the maximum suggested by Mr Justice Morland, and ITN received £75,000.

LM's editor, Michael Hume, and the publishers, Informinc (LM) Ltd and Helene Guldberg, said that the criticism of the reporters was justified because they had deliberately selected shots of Mr Alic "caged behind barbed wire" at the Serb-run Trnopolje camp in August 1992.

The article, written by a German journalist, Thomas Deichmann, asserted that there was no barbed wire around the camp.

ITN's counsel, Mr Tom Shields QC, said the defence case was destroyed by the unpalatable truth that Mr Alic and the others behind the wire were plainly enclosed - "no more free to leave than a man in chains".