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Tory to sue BBCNI over Brexit programme

By Staff Reporter

Former Scottish Conservative Party Vice Chairman Richard Cook has instructed lawyers following a BBCNI Spotlight programme entitled Brexit, Dark Money And The DUP.

The Spotlight programme examined Mr Cook’s role in a £435,000 donation received by the DUP during the Brexit referendum campaign.

The cash was used to pay for pro-Brexit newspaper advertising campaigning outside Northern Ireland.

The BBC Spotlight investigation, which was broadcast in June this year, was presented by Jim Fitzpatrick.

Mr Cook is the chairman of the Constitutional Research Council which made the donation to the DUP.

He is an international adviser in waste management and energy.

In a statement issued yesterday, Mr Cook’s legal adviser, Professor Peter Watson of Glasgow-based PWB Law, told reporters: “The BBC documentary is defamatory.

“Counsel have been instructed and all who choose to repeat the allegations will also be subject to proceedings.”

A BBC spokesperson said last night: “We stand by our journalism. We are not aware of receiving any correspondence from Mr Cook’s lawyers since the programme was broadcast.

“The programme was made in accordance with our editorial guidelines.”

Spotlight is BBC Northern Ireland’s flagship current affairs programme.

Over its 40-year history, the programme has won many broadcasting industry awards for its work, including a 2017 Royal Television Society award for its probe into controversial NI property loans connected with the Irish National Assets Management Agency (Nama).

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