AtkinsThomson
February 11, 2019

On 7 February 2019 Mr Justice Nicklin handed down judgment [2019] EWHC 213 (QB) following a one day preliminary issue trial on meaning. Crucially, the Judge ruled that the BBC’s online news article and the BBC’s News at Ten item bore the following natural and ordinary meaning:

the Claimant had procured or authorised a corrupt payment of $400,000 to be made to Michael Cohen, the personal lawyer of Donald Trump, to extend a brief meeting between the Claimant and President Trump, that had already been agreed, into more substantial talks.

Proceedings were commenced by the Claimant in the High Court on the 3 September 2018 following the Defendant’s publication and broadcast. The action was brought by the Ukrainian President over allegations that a secret six figure sum was paid to arrange talks between him and Donald Trump. Importantly, Mr Justin Nicklin stated in his reasoned judgment that:

“The corrupt nature of the payment is made plain, not only because it was expressly stated to be secret, but because it bought the Claimant greater access to the US President than he would otherwise have obtained.” [31]

And

“…If anything, the reader of the Website Report is presented with even more material pointing towards guilt.” [31]

President Poroshenko is very pleased with the English High Court ruling, which establishes that what the BBC published about him was an allegation seriously damaging his reputation and rejects the BBC’s attempt to play down the damaging effects of its reporting.  As the President has said from the outset, the story of arranging for a secret payment of $400,000 to be made through a back channel in return for talks with President Trump was completely untrue.  President Poroshenko will continue to pursue his claim to whatever extent is necessary to ensure full vindication of his reputation.

Atkins Thomson represent the Claimant in this action. For further information, please contact Graham Atkins or Moritz Schirmeister at graham@atkinsthomson.com /Moritz@atkinsthomson.com or on +44 (0)207 836 9300.