Body Shop goes on the offensive against Entine: Company issues detailed rebuttal of TV producer's charges

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THE BODY SHOP, which has seen its shares battered by reports of an upcoming expose in the US business press, plans an all-out counter- attack against the American television producer who conducted the investigation, Jon Entine.

Body Shop will release, probably today, a detailed rebuttal of charges that Mr Entine makes in the article, which is to appear in the 1 September edition of Business Ethics magazine. It also plans to question Mr Entine's reporting techniques, suggesting among other things that he misrepresented who he was working for to US regulatory authorities.

It will also complain that Mr Entine - who has retained literary agents in the US and the UK to place versions of the expose with other publications - has deliberately leaked some of his findings in an attempt to hurt its share price and thus stimulate higher bids for his article.

An agent for Mr Entine, who is a former producer for ABC television's Prime Time Live, has asked for pounds 7,000 for the right to reprint it in Britain.

Body Shop's share price started slipping more than a week ago, when it was reported that an American ethical investment group, Franklin Research and Development, was recommending sale of the shares because of repercussions from the publication of the expose. Franklin, which has seen a draft of the article, said it contained allegations that Body Shop has polluted a river in New Jersey, made false claims about its natural products, and failed to live up to promises of 'trade not aid' with Third World suppliers.

Subsequent reports revealed that Body Shop is under investigation by the US Federal Trade Commission as a result of complaints from American franchisees, and that its new plant in North Carolina has been the subject of a surprise visit by inspectors of the US Food and Drug Administration.

Body Shop accuses Mr Entine of creating a 'self-generating story' in the case of the FDA.

Calls to Mr Entine, his agents in New York and London, and Business Ethics magazine in Minnesota, seeking comment on Body Shop's allegations, were not returned.