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Turkish PM accepts libel damages

The prime minister of Turkey has accepted substantial undisclosed libel damages over a claim that he accepted a donation to his political party from Iran.

Mr Justice Tugendhat at London's High Court was told that Recep Tayyip Erdogan had been seriously injured in his reputation both personally and as a politician by the "false and defamatory" publication in the Daily Telegraph in September last year.

Counsel Emma Edhem said today that Mr Erdogan, who leads the ruling AK Parti, had also suffered considerable distress and embarrassment.

The articles alleged that he had improperly negotiated and accepted a donation of 25 million US dollars (£15.35 million) to his political party from a foreign state, the Islamic Republic of Iran, in order to further its campaign in a forthcoming general election.

In doing so, it was claimed, he had improperly allowed a foreign power to influence, and interfere in, the internal democratic processes of the Republic of Turkey and AK Parti policy, and had thereby seriously compromised the integrity of his party.

This was unlawful and would have constituted a criminal offence under Turkish law, said counsel.

She added that neither Mr Erdogan nor his party had negotiated any deal of the kind alleged with Iran or with any Iranian institution, entity or individual, or accepted any donation of any kind from the Iranian Government or from any Iranian source.

Ms Edhem said that Telegraph Media Group Ltd now accepted that it was misinformed and the allegations were untrue.

It withdrew them, apologised and had agreed to pay a substantial sum in damages and Mr Erdogan's legal costs.

The newspaper's solicitor, Helen Morris, said: "The defendant accepts that it was misinformed and offers its sincerest apologies to the claimant for the allegations appearing on its articles. It is pleased to have this opportunity to set the record straight."


From Belfast Telegraph