Oil giant BP have agreed to pay the biggest criminal penalty in US history, after receiving fines of $4.5bn for the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The settlement with the Department of Justice involves BP pleading guilty to criminal charges of misconduct during the Deepwater Horizon disaster, in which 11 workers were killed, and millions of barrels of crude were unleashed into the Gulf of Mexico for three months. The damage soiled ti9dal estuaries, killing wildlife, and shut vast areas of the Gulf to commercial fishing.

The Department of Justice has imposed a $4bn fine to be paid over five years, and will pay an additional $525m to the Securities and Exchange commission over a period of three years.

The company's chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg, has said that the resolution was in the best interests of BP and its shareholders, and allowed the company to vigorously defend itself against the remaining civil claims.

Written and presented by Alfred Joyner