Significant Shorts : French court dismisses libel action

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A court in St Malo, France, has dismissed a pounds 108,000 criminal libel action brought by the press barons David and Frederick Barclay against the BBC Director-General, John Birt. Judge Francois Genicon said the case brought by the 62-year-old twin brothers, owners of the European newspaper and the tax haven of Brecquou, was "unacceptable".

The action arose following an interview with the Observer journalist, John Sweeney, on BBC Radio Guernsey, on 4 October last year, in which the Barclays alleged that they were falsely accused of corruption in connection with the Crown Agents scandal in the Seventies. In the interview, Mr Sweeney referred to the twins as "interesting people with an interesting record", and as having been "embroiled" in the Crown Agents affair.