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BBC tells of Bhopal report hoax
U.K. network says it was fooled by 'elaborate deception' about Dow responsibility in 1984 disaster.
December 3, 2004: 8:21 AM EST

LONDON (Reuters) - BBC World said Friday that an interview it ran with a man it identified as a spokesman for Dow Chemical Co, in which he said the company accepted responsibility for India's Bhopal disaster, was wrong and part of an "elaborate deception."

A spokeswoman for Dow (Research) Chemical in Switzerland also confirmed that the report was wrong. The BBC made a statement apologizing. Dow stock had dropped sharply following the report.

The BBC had earlier twice run an interview with a man it identified as Dow Chemical spokesman Jude Finisterra, who said the company accepted full responsibility for the disaster 20 years ago in the central Indian city of Bhopal.

This would have represented a major policy shift for Dow Chemical, which has said it has no responsibility for the Bhopal disaster.

"This morning at 9 GMT (4 a.m. ET), (and at) 10 GMT, BBC World ran an interview with someone purporting to be from the Dow Chemical Company about Bhopal," the BBC said in a news bulletin.

"This information was inaccurate, part of an elaborate deception. The person did not represent the company. We want to make it clear the information he gave was entirely inaccurate."

BBC World had earlier said the interview took place in Paris. It was aired on the 20th anniversary of the Bhopal disaster, when more than 3,500 died after lethal gas escaped from a chemical plant owned by Union Carbide, now a subsidiary of Dow Chemical.

"We apologize to Dow and to anyone who watched the interview who may have been misled by it," it said in a statement read out in a subsequent news bulletin. "Of course the BBC is investigating how the deception happened."

A Dow spokeswoman, speaking from Switzerland, told BBC World that Finisterra was not a Dow employee.

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"Dow confirms there was no basis whatsoever for this report," Marina Ashanin said. "We also confirm Jude Finisterra is neither an employee nor a spokesperson for Dow."

"The bottom line is this is not true," a spokesman for Dow Chemical in Zurich told Reuters. A spokesman for Union Carbide also told Reuters the report was false.  Top of page


Copyright 2004 Reuters All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.



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