The BBC has withdrawn a report claiming that Dow Corporation had accepted responsibility for the Bhopal disaster of 1984.

The British broadcaster said an interviewee claiming to be a spokesman for the company was part of an 'elaborate deception'.

The US multinational Dow Chemical Corporation had earlier denied the report that it had accepted responsibility for the world's worst industrial accident.

In 2001, Dow bought Union Carbide, whose plant in India leaked 40 tonnes of chemicals in December 1984, killing between 15,000 and 30,000 people in the Indian town.

The hoaxer claimed Dow was going to liquidate Union Carbide and create a $12bn fund for the survivors and relatives of Bhopal.

The BBC report, which coincided with the twentieth anniversary of the disaster, was broadcast twice before being withdrawn.

Union Carbide agreed a settlement of $470m with the Indian government in 1989, and both it and Dow have constantly denied responsibility for the accident.

Bhopal campaigners say survivors and relatives have only received an average of €470 each so far. They want the then head of Union Carbide, Warren Anderson, to be tried for culpable homicide.