BBC defends report on BAT, Wetang’ula

Thursday March 24 2016

Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang'ula (centre) addresses the media in Parliament on December 2, 2015.

Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang'ula (centre) addresses the media in Parliament on December 2, 2015. Mr Wetang'ula got a temporary reprieve on Wednesday after the High Court issued orders stopping the BBC from publishing stories linking him to corruption deals with a tobacco company. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP  

By MAUREEN KAKAH
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An international media firm accused of linking Bungoma Senator to bribery involving a British tobacco company has denied claims it published malicious reports to tarnish the politician’s reputation.

In response to a defamation case filed by Mr Wetang’ula against the BBC for naming him in a bribery scandal involving British American Tobacco (BAT) company, co-producers James Andrew and Richard Cookson said it took significant costs and about five months to publish “the public interest report”.

They also claimed Mr Paul Hopkins, who was their whistleblower, had seen documents at a time when he was involved with BAT in facilitating bribe payments to politicians and public officials to undermine anti-smoking laws and help the firm gain greater market share in the tobacco industry in Africa.

Through lawyer James Orengo, Mr Wetang’ula faulted BBC World News Service programme Panorama, for portraying him as corrupt.

High Court Judge Roselyne Aburili extended orders against BBC for the third time and set the hearing of the case on May 31.