Friday 20 October 2017

Former Premiership star denies associating with known Irish criminals

David Speedie pictured leaving the Four Courts yesterday after the opening day of a High Court action for damages. Photo: Courts Collins
David Speedie pictured leaving the Four Courts yesterday after the opening day of a High Court action for damages. Photo: Courts Collins

Tim Healy

FORMER Premiership footballer David Speedie denied in the High Court today he associated with known criminals.

Under cross-examination on the second day of his defamation action against the Sunday World over two articles in April 2011, he strongly disagreed with Eoin McCullough SC, for the paper,  that he associated with known criminals.

He is suing the paper's publishers, Sunday Newspapers Ltd, editor Colm McGinty and journalist Mick McCaffrey who wrote the stories.   The defendants deny defamation and that the words in the articles were true.

He claims they caused him to lose work as a TV and radio football pundit,  to be humiliated and depressed and fearful for his life because they associated him with mobster "Fat Freddy" Thompson.

Mr Speedie, who played for a number of top clubs including Liverpool and Chelsea, claims the articles had "ruined my life".

Mr Speedie was pressed a number of times by defence counsel on whether he accepted the words quoted in the articles by the paper had been said by him in a phone interview with Mr McCaffrey.

"I do not know Freddy Thompson and I do not associate with known criminals," he said.

"You are trying to make me into a piece of crap and trying to tie me up in knots".

He said of the "stuff he has written in the paper, half of it is made up and some of it was me answering questions"

When a transcript of Mr McCaffrey's notes of the phone conversation was put to him, he agreed he had said some of the matters recorded and later put into the articles.

However, he did not say most of what was written down in the notes and said the way in which the conversation was recorded was "upside down". It  showed him talking first about being stopped many times by gardai when he had actually started talking to Mr McCaffrey about his involvement in football, he said.

He would not talk about personal matters to someone he did not know, including Mr McCaffrey who was in court.

"He (McCaffrey) is well wrong and he knows it, sat there, he knows he is a liar".

He insisted Mr McCaffey "had made up" much of the notes in order to "write a load of crap" which had put his and his fiancee's life in danger.

He repeated he did not associated with criminals and drug dealers and said his circle of friends were nice people, some of whom were in court and would be coming later.

"I did not tell anybody I associated with Freddy Thompson, and people getting murdered over it - you would have to be off your banana".

The court heard on Tuesday Mr Speedie's fiancée is a sister of a woman married to Ritchie Thompson, Freddy Thompson's older brother.

Mr Speedie claims the first article, on April 10, 2011, headed "Kops and Robbers", meant he was engaged in criminal activity, was involved in smuggling or transportation of drugs and had links to gangland crime.

A second article, on April 24, following a solicitor's letter to the paper, was headed "Speedie the Snake" with a photograph of him handling a large snake at a birthday party.  He claims this meant he was a snake and a reptile and that he had no cause to be upset about the previous article.

The case continues before a judge and jury.

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