BUSINESSMAN Denis O'Brien has told the High Court it was not true that the final report of the Moriarty Tribunal was devastating for him.
He said that he disputed and continued to dispute the tribunal findings; believed that the report had ignored the evidence of a key witness; that it got certain things completely wrong; and that it was, in the end, based on the opinion of Mr Justice Michael Moriarty, rather than on the basis of what would be required in a court of law.
Mr O'Brien, whose business interests include the international Digicel telecommunications group, is suing for defamation over an article in the 'Irish Daily Mail' on January 22, 2010.
On his second day in the witness box, Mr O'Brien accused counsel for the 'Mail' of re-running the tribunal and trying to "blacken me".
He claimed that the article, which was written by journalist Paul Drury, wrongly accused him of being a hypocrite when he was involved in the relief effort for victims of the Haitian earthquake in 2010.
The article was headlined "Moriarty is about to report, no wonder Denis O'Brien is acting the saint in stricken Haiti."
Mr O'Brien claimed that the article meant that what he was doing in Haiti was motivated by self-interest and was designed to deflect attention away from the Moriarty Tribunal report, which contained findings adverse to Mr O'Brien but which he strongly disputes.
He said Mr Drury's article was nasty, spiteful and grubby and had caused damage to his good name and reputation.
The defendants deny the claims and say the article was a piece of opinion honestly held and based on facts that the author believed were true.
Cross-examined by Oisin Quinn SC, for the defendants, Mr O'Brien said there were "60 findings" adverse to him in the tribunal report which "are all wrong".
He had given interviews to journalists before the 'Mail' article about the tribunal's preliminary findings, which were already in the public domain.
Mr O'Brien said that counsel for the 'Mail' was going through articles in newspapers from that time and "rerunning the tribunal to try and blacken me".
When it was put to him that the tribunal had found that Mr O'Brien's previous company, Esat Digifone, had given large sums of money to former minister Michael Lowry for helping it get the country's second mobile-phone licence, he said no witness had ever told the tribunal that he had given money to Mr Lowry and the tribunal did not say that he had a corrupt relationship with him.
Mr O'Brien denied that he had run a public-relations campaign, including a newspaper advert "slagging off" tribunal lawyers. He had, he said, put an advert in a newspaper pointing out that a tribunal barrister had claimed for a Toblerone chocolate from a hotel mini-bar while getting paid €3,500 a day at taxpayers' expense.
It was "not true", he said, that the tribunal's final report was devastating for him. It had, for instance, ignored the evidence of a key witness, Professor Michael Andersen, who was a lead consultant during the evaluation process for the phone-licence competition.
Former Haitian Social Affairs Minister Josefa Gauthier told the court that Mr O'Brien had never "acted" as though he had an interest in Haiti. She said: "He loves Haiti and did it with his heart."
In 2006, Ms Gauthier was appointed director of the Digicel Foundation, which was set up by Mr O'Brien's company and is involved in building 150 schools in Haiti.
When Digicel invested in the country, "Haitians were so happy, they thought it was Christmas," she said.
The case continues.