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Opportunity to Respond or 'Right of Reply'

Invariably, where defamatory allegations are made in programmes, we will seek a response from the subject of the allegations. This is important not only in that it serves as a final accuracy check but also is important in ensuring fairness to the subject of the allegations (See Section 7 of the code). This is particularly important where programme-makers and broadcasters may have some difficulty in proving the truth of the allegations and are relying on other defences, such as asserting a public interest defence. It is unlikely that a broadcaster would be able to avail itself of the statutory public interest defence if it had not sought a response from the subject of the allegations before broadcast and fairly reflected that response, where one was given, within the programme. Seeking a response as to the truth or falsity of allegations is less likely to be necessary when neutrally reporting on disputes between third parties. However, in such circumstances, the positions of the parties should be accurately reported if known. In any event, legal advice from the programme lawyer should be sought.

See 'Opportunity to Respond'.