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BBC to pay millions to IVF specialist in libel claim

15 June 2009
Appeared in BioNews 512

The BBC will be paying a steep legal bill, estimated between one and six million pounds, after settling a libel case with Dr Mohamed Taranissi, who is considered to be one of Britain's most successful fertility specialists.

A BBC spokesman announced last week that the parties had agreed to settle and 'consider the matter closed'.

Taranissi claimed that the BBC's Panorama programme - broadcast in January 2007 - entitled 'IVF Uncovered' damaged his reputation when it alleged that his London clinic, the 'Assisted Reproduction and Gynaecology Centre', offered 'unnecessary and unproven treatment' to an undercover reporter posed as a 26-year-old patient who, like her partner, had not experienced a history of infertility. Taranissi claimed he was the victim of a 'witch hunt' and his libel solicitors declared the BBC allegations 'biased and irresponsible'.

The agreed settlement was for the BBC to pay both parties' legal costs but the amounts, and the question whether the BBC is paying Taranissi any damages in addition to legal costs, are not confirmed. Reports cited a source close to the case as estimating Taranissi's legal costs to be around £900,000 and did not believe the BBC to be paying damages. The BBC is equally expected to have high six-figure legal costs of its own.

In October, the High Court already had ordered the BBC to pay £500,000 of Taranissi's legal costs. The BBC had engaged in a bitter legal battle but roughly 14 months later it withdrew part of its defence of qualified privilege for responsible journalism, leaving them with a bill of hundreds of thousands of pounds in legal fees.

Mr Taranissi is estimated to have assisted the successful birth of 2,300 babies within seven years, holding the highest IVF clinic success birth rates in London. At his clinics, 60 per cent of women under 35 successfully give birth to live babies. Taranissi was ready to defend against the show's allegations including that a blood transfusion offered might be harmful to an unborn child and the claim he had a second unlicensed clinic, the Reproductive Genetics Institute, where he allegedly sent his older and harder-to-treat patients in order to maintain higher success rates at his other clinic. He claimed that Panorama producers had information that showed 'a different side and a different argument', but that they chose not to use it, including at least two other undercover reporters being given legitimate advice.
BBC faces £6m payout in libel case with IVF doctor Mohamed Taranissi
The Times |  9 June 2009
BBC's £1 million back down in libel fight with IVF doctor
Daily Mail |  9 June 2009
BBC settles Panorama libel battle
BBC News Online |  8 June 2009
BBC to pay £1m over Mohamed Taranissi libel battle
The Daily Telegraph |  8 June 2009
19 September 2011 - by Sandy Starr 
The UK's fertility regulator, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), has published a long-awaited review of its conduct in relation to IVF specialist Mohamed Taranissi and related legal proceedings....
19 April 2010 - by Dr Vivienne Raper 
The British Chiropractic Association (BCA) has dropped its libel action against science writer Simon Singh...
18 January 2010 - by Antony Starza-Allen 
The UK's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) is conducting an internal investigation into its own failings when investigating Mohamed Taranissi, the 'person responsible' for the Assisted Reproduction and Gynaecology Centre (ARGC), London, in 2007 concerning allegations that he was operating without a licence, The Times newspaper has reported....
3 November 2008 - by Ailsa Stevens 
Disciplinary proceedings against one of the UK's top fertility experts, Mohamed Taranissi, relating to allegations brought by two of his former patients, collapsed this week after the General Medical Council (GMC) ruled that there was insufficient evidence to support the charges. Mr Taranissi was accused of failing...
13 October 2008 - by Ailsa Stevens 
New figures release last week by the UK's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) show that two clinics run by fertility expert Mohammad Taranissi - the Assisted Reproduction and Gynaecology Centre (ARGC) and the Reproductive Genetics Institute (RGI) - are the most successful in the country in terms of...
29 September 2008 - by Ailsa Stevens 
The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has dropped all legal allegations against leading UK fertility expert, Mohamed Taranissi. They have removed a ban put in place last year, which prevented the fertility doctor from being the 'person responsible' for his 'Assisted Reproduction and Gynaecology Centre' (ARGC...
26 February 2007 - by Cheryl Hudson 
Assisted reproduction patients are protesting in an unprecedented way after the recent broadcast of a highly critical BBC documentary about the UK's top IVF clinic. The Assisted Reproduction and Gynaecology Centre (ARGC) in London is under ongoing investigation by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) on a variety of...
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