Saturday 31 January 2015

Former minister Frank Fahey awarded ‘six-figure sum’ over libel in Mail newspapers

Published 19/12/2012 | 12:01

19/12/2012(Left - black/white tie) Galway T.D. Frank Fahy looks on as his Solicitor, Paul Tweed speaks to the media following a settlement announcement in the High Court yesterday(Wed).Pic: Collins Courts

FORMER Junior minister Frank Fahey today received an apology and a six-figure sum settlement of High Court actions over unfounded allegations against him in a series of articles published by the Mail group of newspapers.

Mr Fahey, who was in court today, sued over seven articles in the Irish Daily Mail and Irish Mail on Sunday relating to a number of allegations and references to the former Galway West TD and former Marine Minister.

In the apology read by a lawyer on behalf of the Mail, it stated an article in the Irish Daily Mail on June 29, 2006, wrongly reported Mr Fahey was accused in the Dail of having been involved in tax evasion in his property dealings. The paper fully accepted he had not evaded tax on his property dealings or otherwise, it said.

In other articles in the Sunday paper published in 2007 and 2007, it was alleged Mr Fahey showed political favouritism in relation to the administration and implementation of the "Lost at Sea Scheme". The scheme was set up by the Department of Marine to compensate fishermen for lost vessels.

The paper stated that two of Mr Fahey's constituents had received €2m in fishing quotas which constituted 75pc of all compensation paid and that out of the €2.8m paid out under the scheme €2.1m was paid to those two constituents.

"These statements were inaccurate," the apology said. The paper acknowledged the scheme did not provide financial support to the successful applicants and the replacement gross tonnage could not be sold or otherwise traded as a financial asset. This was also confirmed by a subsequent Ombudsman's finding, the apology read.

The apology also referred to another article in the daily paper in May 2010, there was a report on the change to pension arrangements of

certain government ministers, including Mr Fahey. The Mail said it wished to make it clear that this change did not result from lobbying by Mr Fahey to the then Minister for Finance Brian Cowen, after his predecessor Charlie McCreevy declined to assist him. Mr Fahey was only one of a number of former Ministers affected by the change.

The apology added: "We unreservedly apologise to Mr Fahey for any distress or embarrassment caused to him or his family by our reports.

Mr Justice Eamon deValera struck out the three sets of proceedings brought by Mr Fahey against the Mail publishers, Associated Newspapers, at the request of Declan Doyle SC, for Mr Fahey.

Afterwards, Mr Fahey's solicitor Paul Tweed said he had received a six-figure sum in damages together with legal costs as part of the overall settlement.

Mr Fahey told reporters the series of articles were very hurtful and caused a lot of distress to his family and himself and he was delighted with today's result.

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