Undercover reporter sues police

Undercover TV reporter Donal MacIntyre today launched a libel action against a police force over remarks it made about his investigation into a care home.

Undercover TV reporter Donal MacIntyre today launched a libel action against a police force over remarks it made about his investigation into a care home.

MacIntyre said his reputation as a journalist was damaged by Kent Police claims that his controversial documentary about alleged abuse was misleading.

The Chief Constable of Kent was served with a writ this morning, MacIntyre announced outside BBC Broadcasting House in London.

A Kent Police spokesman said the force would "vigorously" contest the action.

The clash between MacIntyre and Kent Police erupted over an episode last year of the BBC's flagship MacIntyre Undercover series in which the reporter investigated the Brompton Care Home in Gillingham, Kent.

He claimed to have unearthed a culture of neglect, and within 24 hours of the secretly-filmed programme, Medway Social Services closed the home down.

Police launched an investigation but, after several weeks, detectives announced that their findings "paint a very different picture to the one we expected to find".

Only two people were cautioned for minor assaults and the force said it was considering suing to recover £50,000 for the cost of the police investigation.

Detectives criticised the documentary makers for "misleading" editing of the 41 hours of footage from hidden cameras.

Today, MacIntyre said it was "a matter of personal regret" that he had found it necessary to issue legal proceedings.

"The proceedings relate to defamatory comments made by his officers and officials of Kent Police about an edition of the MacIntyre Undercover programme which investigated abuse and a culture of neglect in the privately run Brompton care home in Kent," he said.

"The programme prompted an independent investigation into standards at the home by Medway Council which led to the closure of the establishment."

He said legal action was not a course he had taken lightly, adding: "However, Kent Police have declined to retract their allegations despite being given every opportunity to do so.

"In making these allegations, they have both damaged my personal reputation as a journalist and brought the reputation of the BBC's journalism into question."

Kent Police confirmed that the force had received a writ naming Chief Constable Sir David Phillips, Detective Sergeant Michael Costello, and the force's media services manager, Mark Pugash.

Mr Pugash said today: "We will be contesting this vigorously."

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