Monday 23 January 2017

Student loses legal bid to gag newspapers with costs decided next month

Published 23/01/2012 | 05:00

Eoin McKeogh outside the High Court in Dublin yesterday
Eoin McKeogh outside the High Court in Dublin yesterday

A JUDGE has rejected a student's attempt to gag newspapers and prevent them from naming him in legal proceedings he has taken against a number of websites.

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The issue of costs has been adjourned to a date next month, with Mr Justice Michael Peart commenting that the cost of the action would be "enough to buy a house".

Eoin McKeogh (22), from Co Kildare, was wrongly accused of running away without paying a taxi fare after a video was posted on YouTube by a taxi driver.

He was in Japan on November 13, 2011 -- the time of the incident -- and could not have been the man in the video.

Mr McKeogh, who is studying international business and Japanese at DCU, had obtained temporary injunctions against Facebook, Google and YouTube.

It prevented them and other websites from reposting the video and naming him.

Mr McKeogh's counsel argued that six newspapers breached the terms of those injunctions by identifying him in subsequent court reports of his action.

He also sought to prevent the newspapers from identifying him in further reporting of his case.

The newspapers opposed the application and denied there was any breach because the injunctions did not apply to them.

Yesterday, at the High Court Mr Justice Peart dismissed Mr McKeogh's applications against the newspapers, including the Irish Independent.

The judge said the terms of the injunction were not directed at the newspapers and their reporting of the case had not breached orders he made on January 11.

He was completely satisfied that newspapers "were and are entitled to name Mr McKeogh in their reporting of the proceedings".

And he commented that while Mr McKeogh was completely innocent, the "genie is out of the bottle".

If Mr McKeogh felt he had been defamed in any reports he could seek redress in the ordinary way, he added.

Mr McKeogh's lawyers argued he was entitled under the Constitution and European Convention on Human Rights to have his right to privacy and his good name protected.

It was claimed that no public interest was served by the newspapers naming Mr McKeogh, who was in no way responsible for the events that led to his public identification.

The newspapers argued that their role was to report, in a fair and proper manner, proceedings that were held in public and no reporting restrictions were either applied or granted.

In his ruling, Mr Justice Peart said Mr McKeogh's action was not a case where the facts were so exceptional that it would allow the court not to follow the law as it has been pronounced in the "highest court in the country".

The judge also noted that the taxi driver himself came to court and said that Mr McKeogh was not the person who avoided paying the fare.

Irish Independent

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