Warder loses defamation case
Published 23/03/2012 | 05:00
A PRISON officer at Mountjoy Prison has admitted in court he had a relationship with the wife of a man who was behind bars in the Dublin jail at the time.
Paul Moles (41), of Park Lane, Grangerath, Colpe Road, Co Meath, yesterday failed in a €50,000 defamation claim against the 'Irish Star' newspaper, which exposed his affair in April 2010 in an article headlined: 'Jailer's sex with con's wife'.
He now faces a legal bill of more than €20,000 from the failed Circuit Civil Court action.
Judge Jacqueline Linnane said 'The Star's' lead story that an unidentified married prison officer at Ireland's toughest jail had been suspended over allegations he had slept with an inmate's wife was true.
She said the newspaper's claims that the alleged affair was exposed following an investigation and that the officer could face serious disciplinary procedures were also true.
The judge did not accept that part of the article saying women complained about him asking for their phone numbers could be defamatory.
Judge Linnane said Mr Moles had not been identified in the article and three of his friends and colleagues -- the best man at his wedding, Peter Murphy; and prison officers John Brennan and Pat Brompton -- had been able to identify him only because they knew he had been suspended.
Counsel for Mr Moles claimed the article contained defamatory remarks and innuendoes and had held Mr Moles out to be a "sexual predator".
Mr Moles, who tried to avoid photographers outside the court, had earlier told the court he had met the unidentified prisoner's wife outside a shop near the prison. He later received a phone call from her.
He and his wife had parted and he had developed "a liaison" with the prisoner's wife which lasted for about six months.
She had told him she was separated and her husband had obtained a court order to bring the children to see him in Mountjoy Prison.
He had been out of work sick between August 2009 and March 2010 and on his return he had gone to the governor to inform him he was seeing a woman whose husband was locked up. He did not know the prisoner.
Mr Moles said that when 'The Star' broke the story on Saturday April 3, 2010, he was suspended pending an investigation and the prisoner concerned had been transferred to an open prison.
He said he remained suspended on pay for a year and on his return had lost an annual pay increment.
Under cross-examination, he agreed that the article was "in the main true" and had not identified him in any way.
Judge Linnane rejected his defamation claim and also his application for the publication of a correction.