TV report's makers win libel damages

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THAMES TELEVISION and the reporter Julian Manyon were yesterday given a public apology and undisclosed libel damages in the High Court over an allegation in a book that they lied to 'add spice' to a documentary.

Adrienne Page, for the plaintiffs, told Mr Justice Tuckey that in June 1981 Thames had screened a TV Eye programme, 'The Last Round Up', which featured the interception by Czech police of a van on the Austro-Czech border.

Jan Kavan, who despatched the van - containing banned literature - told Thames it also contained names and addresses of contacts in Czechoslovakia. In July 1989 HarperCollins published a book, Love and Freedom, by Mr Kavan's mother Rosemary, in which he alleged that Thames and Mr Manyon had lied that there were names and addresses in the van.

After the 1989 collapse of the communist regime in Czechoslovakia the full documentary evidence of the matter became available. It was clear, as Mr Kavan now accepted, that there were a substantial number of uncoded names and addresses in the van.

Patrick Swaffer, solicitor for HarperCollins, said the firm had been misled. It apologised and had agreed to pay Thames and Mr Manyon 'substantial' damages, and their legal costs.