HISTORIAN and political commentator Dr Ruth Dudley Edwards has been awarded £25,000 and a public apology by the High Court in London against historian Tim Pat Coogan for references to her in his book Wherever Green is Worn: the Story of the Irish Diaspora.
The book alleged that she had "grovelled to and hypocritically ingratiated herself with the English establishment to further her writing career", that she had abused the position of chairwoman of the British Association for Irish Studies (BAIS) by trying to impose her political views on it, and that as a result the association became financially unstable. It also alleged that Dr Dudley Edwards had been commissioned by the BBC to write a book, True Brits, because of political favouritism rather than her ability or impartiality.
In court last week, Mr Coogan and his publishers, Random House, withdrew all the allegations and issued a complete apology to Dr Dudley Edwards.
They also agreed to insert an erratum slip into all copies of the book to which they have access, stating that there are "factual errors in the references to historian and writer Dr Ruth Dudley Edwards on pages 174 to 178 of this book", and withdrawing each one. It ends: "We apologise unreservedly to Dr Ruth Dudley Edwards for the errors in this edition ... all future imprints and editions of the book will exclude these pages. Likewise, we will provide a substitute copy of the revised book to any library that requests it."
Dr Dudley Edwards was delighted with the judgment. "I put six years of my life into being chairman of the BAIS at great personal cost. I was a freelance writer but I did it because I was passionate about raising the profile of the Irish of Britain in a positive way," she said.
"I am used to Tim Pat Coogan's attacks on me in his journalism, which I take in good humour. This, however, I could not let go by."