Appleby, the offshore legal services provider whose leak of documents pertaining to tax avoidance have been the second-greatest leak of financial irregularities, is suing the Guardian and BBC for their coverage of the news.
The law firm argues that neither Guardian nor BBC provided any copies of the documents the two news giants claim to have seen, on which they have based their reports.
In addition, Appleby is also seeking damages for the disclosure of “confidential” documents.
A Guardian spokesperson said: “This claim could have serious consequences for investigative journalism in the UK. 96 of the world’s most respected media organizations concluded there was significant public interest in undertaking the Paradise Papers project and hundreds of articles have been published in recent weeks as a result of the work undertaken by partners. We will be defending ourselves vigorously against this claim as we believe our reporting was responsible and a matter of legitimate public interest.”
A BBC spokesperson said: “The BBC will strongly defend its role and conduct in the Paradise Papers project. Our serious and responsible journalism is resulting in revelations which are clearly of the highest public interest and has revealed matters which would otherwise have remained secret. Already we are seeing authorities taking action as a consequence.”
Appleby said: “Our overwhelming responsibility is to our clients and our own colleagues who have had their private and confidential information taken in what was a criminal act. We need to know firstly which of their – and our – documents were taken.”