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Writer at centre of Body Shop row denies pestering Roddick

THE JOURNALIST at the centre of the row over The Body Shop's 'green' credentials yesterday hit back at allegations that he had pestered the chain store group's founder, Anita Roddick, and fabricated quotations about the company.

Jon Entine, a former producer with the ABC television network, said claims that he had harassed Ms Roddick and tried to pester her at home were totally unfounded. The Body Shop made the claims on Saturday in a 32-page pre-emptive response to an article by Mr Entine which is due to be published in this week's issue of Business Ethics.

The company's move on to the offensive follows a week under siege, during which its shares fell to their lowest point this year. Allegations challenging the company's green credentials and that management has not met promises made to American franchisees are being seen as having the potential of causing irreparable damage to the Roddick halo.

For many years, The Body Shop has been feted as a darling of the stock market and an idol of the green left. Now analysts are concerned that further threatened revelations may cause loyal customers - who had been charmed into paying a premium for products by the company's pioneering ethical stance - to desert, causing a slump in sales. Mr Entine said the pestering allegation referred to a visit he made to Ms Roddick's home last year during his investigations of the company. According to Mr Entine, he was told she was not at home and left immediately.

He also denied a second claim by The Body Shop that he had fabricated quotations attributed to Pauline Tiffen, a spokeswoman for Twin Trading, an umbrella organisation involved with the company's Trade not Aid programme. The Body Shop claimed that he had 'distorted or perhaps even fabricated many of the quotations he attributes to Ms Tiffen and has otherwise misrepresented the substance and import of his 'interviews' with her'. According to Mr Entine, Ms Tiffen described Anita Roddick as 'schizophrenic' and 'sociopathic'. He reports her as saying: 'She's taken the programme we helped The Body Shop set up and tried to subvert it.'

Yesterday he maintained that all the quotations were on the record and in almost every case recorded and in context. He promised to release the full text of the interviews after a series of articles on The Body Shop had been published. Further articles, including one in a British publication, are expected later in the year.

Marjorie Kelly, publisher of Business Ethics, confirmed that she had received letters from The Body Shop's lawyers threatening possible lawsuits for libel if she proceeded with publication of the story.

She said: 'We are proceeding with publication as planned, confident that we have documented all the facts in our story and that it is not libellous. We consider this a balanced and fair story.'

The Body Shop described Mr Entine's allegations as false, adding: 'Mr Entine knows them to be false or is at the very least recklessly advancing them.'

Mr Entine, who now works in California, spent 20 years until last year as a television writer and producer, the past three as producer of ABC's Prime Time Live.