More than a month after the broadcast of serious allegations about businessman Frank Cushnahan which he threatened to sue over, the BBC has still not received a writ.
On 29 February BBC Spotlight broadcast its year-long investigation into the Nama scandal. Mr Cushnahan, a well-connected business figure who is a friend of former First Minister Peter Robinson, was secretly recorded admitting that he was in line for money in an offshore account as part of the £1.3 billion sale of Nama’s Northern Ireland loans.
He had previously denied even having had “any dealings” with Cerberus, who bought the loans, or its representatives.
A week after Spotlight was aired, Mr Cushnahan’s lawyer, Paul Tweed, told the Belfast Telegraph that “the BBC have been put on notice in relation to serious defamatory and other issues arising from the covert filming, editing process and commentary in their Spotlight broadcast”.
But yesterday a BBC spokesman told the News Letter: “As far as we are aware, no proceedings have been issued at this time.”
Spotlight has often been threatened with libel proceedings but rarely been taken to court. In 2013, the programme made public a threat from the then First Minister Mr Robinson that if it broadcast certain criticisms of him (which it did) he had instructed his lawyer to begin proceedings without further instructions.
Mr Robinson never began any proceedings after the broadcast.