Guardian, BBC reach settlement with Appleby over Paradise Papers litigation

The law firm had initiated proceedings after details from confidential documents were published by the news organisations

The Guardian, BBC and Appleby have reached an out of court settlement over the Paradise Papers leak last year
The Guardian, BBC and Appleby have reached an out of court settlement over the Paradise Papers leak last year

An out-of-court settlement has been reached between the law firm Appleby, the Guardian and the BBC, over the latter two’s involvement in the Paradise Papers at the end of last year.

The Paradise Papers was a major new leak of documents from two offshore services firms based in Bermuda and Singapore, as well as from 19 corporate registries maintained by governments in secret offshore jurisdictions.

The documents were obtained by the Süddeutsche Zeitung and shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), which organized a collaborative investigation with dozens of outlets across the world, including the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP).​

Appleby had taken both media organisations to court after they published details from confidential documents showing offshore tax-avoidance schemes used by wealthy individuals.

Roughly half of all the documents leaked to Süddeutsche Zeitung were from Appleby, which was demanding that it be told by the two organisations, which of its confidential documents had been taken.

The firm has states that it believes the data to have been obtained by hackers.

In a statement, the three parties said they had “resolved their differences” regarding claims of a breach of confidence.

"Without compromising their journalistic integrity or ability to continue to do public interest journalism, the Guardian and the BBC have assisted Appleby by explaining which of the company's documents may have been used to underpin their journalism.

"It is now clear that the vast majority of documents that were of interest in the Paradise Papers investigation related to the fiduciary business that is no longer owned by Appleby and so were not legally privileged documents."

A spokesperson for the Guardian said: “The Guardian's reporting from the Paradise Papers is investigative journalism that has raised important issues in the public interest.”

A spokesperson for the BBC said: "We welcome this settlement which preserves our ability to carry out investigative journalism in the public interest."

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