Body Shop wins damages over TV smear

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THE BODY SHOP yesterday won its High Court libel case against Channel 4 for a Dispatches investigation that accused the politically correct cosmetics chain of lies and hypocrisy, writes Marianne Macdonald.

After 11 hours, the jury reached a majority verdict of 10-2, awarding the Body Shop pounds 273,000 damages for loss of profit - less than half the pounds 585,000 it had claimed in court that it lost through the hostile allegations.

Anita and Gordon Roddick, the Body Shop's founders, were each awarded pounds 1,000 in general damages, as was the company. Channel 4 and Fulcrum, the independent production company that made the programme, were ordered to pay costs estimated at about pounds 1.5m.

Since the Dispatches programme was shown last May, Mrs Roddick, 51, has made the suit her only priority. Visibly relieved, she called the result 'a vindication'.

Mrs Roddick, the Body Shop managing director, said: 'We had no choice but to take action following the sense of outrage felt by all who saw and heard about this programme, which portrayed our values as cynically motivated, empty rhetoric.'

The Dispatches investigation had falsely alleged that the Body Shop misled customers over its policy on testing cosmetic ingredients on animals, cynically launched an EC campaign to lure in customers and prop up its share price, and broke promises made to a Glasgow community where it had sited a soap factory.

Channel 4 claimed it was important to draw to public attention that some ingredients in Body Shop products had been tested on animals, albeit not by the Body Shop. Channel 4 is considering an appeal.

'Inaccurate smear', page 8