BBC apologises for "Rough Hustice" slur

Shaun Pye reports

Leading criminal silk Jeremy Roberts QC has accepted a public apology from the BBC for "unjustified slurs" that he had threatened opposing counsel in order to stifle criticism of his former head of chambers.

The apology was made in the High Court last week by the BBC's counsel Caroline Addy.

The BBC has made an undisclosed donation to charity in settlement of Roberts' libel action.

The court heard how a Rough Justice programme entitled "Judgement Day", broadcast last July, alleged that while acting for the Crown in Patrick Molloy's 1997 appeal against his conviction for the murder of Carl Bridgewater, Roberts made threats to Molloy's lawyers.

The programme claimed Roberts had said he would call a particularly damaging witness unless the lawyers stopped criticising Molloy's original counsel, the late John Gorman QC Roberts' former head of chambers at 9 Gough Square.

David Hooper, a partner with Biddle, who represented Roberts at the hearing, said the BBC had recognised that the allegations had no foundation and had apologised for the "unjustified slur" on Roberts' professional character.

Hooper told Mr Justice Popplewell: "What he did was give a proper, open and professional response, on behalf of the crown, to an enquiry by Mr Molloy's counsel arising out of a separate ground of appeal.

"Namely, what position to be taken by the Crown regarding the relevance and admissibility of the evidence of the witness referred to."