BBC facing defamation claims over false ‘orgasm cult’ podcast allegations
A High Court hearing is scheduled for tomorrow involving Nicole Daedone, a relatively well-known American relationships expert motivational speaker and originator of the so-called Orgasmic Meditation practice known as “OM”, together with former OneTaste sales director Rachel Cherwitz and OneTaste Inc itself.
They will seek to persuade the High Court to exercise its discretion and allow their libel claims against the BBC to continue alongside other existing defamation claims, even though the three of them brought their claim outside the one year deadline.
The claim against the BBC was originally filed in November 2021 by the Institute of OM, a related organisation formed to advance the practice of OM.
This interim hearing is scheduled to determine whether Daedone and Cherwitz, along with OneTaste, can claim for the personal reputational damage they have endured, arising from defamation in this jurisdiction, though outside of the one year limitation which would otherwise shut out their defamation cases.
Their claims for misuse of their private information and unlawful processing of their personal data continue and are unaffected by this hearing.
The claims arise from a BBC podcast entitled “The Orgasm Cult,” which aired in November 2020. This 10-part series purported to introduce listeners to OneTaste, which is a women’s wellness education company, founded by Daedone in the mid 2000s, to promote the practice of OM.
However, the trio claim the podcast saw the BBC introduce a series of distressing, false and fully refutable allegations, some loosely based on other false allegations originally published by Ellen Huet of Bloomberg Businessweek almost four years ago.
“The BBC’s coverage appeared to have been crafted to titillate and shock, and was not an accurate and editorially sound portrayal of the company and community of OneTaste, organised around the practice of OM, which operated within strict and safe boundaries among consenting adults,” a statement read today.
“The BBC’s depiction of the company’s ethos and policies is far removed from the reality of the community of over 16,000 people who have learned the OM practice, and another 35,000 people who came through the doors of OneTaste over the period of its operation,” according to the release sent to City A.M.
“OneTaste has thoroughly investigated the appalling allegations of abusive practices and interviewed dozens of practitioners and former OneTaste staff members. The investigation has confirmed that the allegations are false.”
The BBC has since been directly informed of the falsities and misrepresentations in its own output, and has been sent evidence which contradicts the allegations, yet it continues to publish access to the misleading podcast, the trio said.
Founder Nicole Daedone said: “The truth should matter to the BBC. I always recognised that the very nature of our pioneering work made us vulnerable to attack by those who would choose to misrepresent it. Still, I firmly believe in freedom of expression, and I loathe the very idea of bringing defamation proceedings.”
She added: “However, when an influential broadcaster such as the BBC, with its unparalleled international reach and repute, continues to publish serious allegations even after being presented with voluminous evidence that they are false, we have a responsibility to mount a formal challenge.”