The veteran BBC journalist John Ware has launched legal action against the Labour party over his controversial Panorama investigation into allegations of antisemitism last year.
It is understood that prior to the action being taken, a letter was sent to the party just before Christmas alleging it had libelled Ware in statements following broadcast of the programme last July.
Ware, 72, has been an investigative journalist for more than 40 years, exposing cover-ups in Northern Ireland and human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia, and is the former presenter of the BBC’s Rough Justice.
At the centre of the dispute is a statement by Labour that the BBC had engaged in “deliberate and malicious representations designed to mislead the public” in its broadcast.
It is understood five whistleblowers are also threatening legal action against the party.
The Panorama programme, which was broadcast last July, alleged that top party figures had interfered with investigations into antisemitism.
Labour strongly denied the allegations of political interference, and came out on the offensive, as it accused the BBC of bias and called for the documentary to be pulled. A Labour spokesman at the time said the party had fully answered “a number of questions” put to it by the programme, and had also sent 50 pages of documents in response.
It is contended that the Labour party libelled a respected journalist for suggesting he deliberately set out to make a biased programme.
The lawsuit emerged after the broadcast regulator, Ofcom, rejected 28 complaints against the same programme.
It decided there were no grounds for pursuing any allegation of bias.
In a statement Ofcom said: “We assessed complaints from viewers who felt that this programme was factually inaccurate and biased. In our view, the programme was duly impartial.
“As well as highly critical personal testimonies, it included the Labour party’s response prominently throughout, including in an interview with the shadow communities secretary.”
The Labour party declined to comment, saying it was an “ongoing legal matter”.
Ware’s solicitor, Mark Lewis of Patron Law, said: “It would not be appropriate to comment at this stage.”