A top executive from British consumer goods giant Reckitt Benckiser got a slap from an angry consumer while he was making an apology over deadly lung injuries linked to one of its products.
SkyNews reports that Ata Safdar, the head of the company in South Korea and Japan, faced angry relatives of the victims at a highly-charged press conference in Seoul.
As the chaotic press conference went on, a man came up beside Mr Safdar and slapped him on the back of the neck.
Another man squared up to him and appeared to call him a “murderer”, adding “it’s too late!”
A 13-year-old boy who now breathes using an oxygen tank was one of the victims in the audience for the executive’s apology.
Reckitt Benckiser is headquartered in Slough, Berkshire, and its brands include Dettol, Nurofen, Harpic and Durex.
It was gathered that some 103 people are believed to have died from causes related to the liquid products – marketed by Reckitt Benckiser as well as about a dozen other companies. But campaigners insist that the death toll could be higher.
Many of the victims were women and children – who use humidifiers during South Korea’s dry winter season.
The scandal emerged in 2011 when four pregnant women died of lung problems and the government found “significant association” with the sterilisers.
In his apologetic speech, Mr Safdar said:
“Today’s apology, was about acceptance of responsibility for the harm that Oxy HS (humidifier sterilisers) has caused.
“This is the first time we are accepting the fullest responsibility, and we are offering a complete and full apology.
“We were late, five years have passed, we are also apologising far too late. This is what we are apologising about.”
The executive struggled to complete his “heartbreaking” apology amid the heckles and shouting from the audience.
A multi-billion dollar “humanitarian fund” to compensate the victims has been set up – and a criminal investigation is also under way.