IT is too early to say the victory of Denis O'Brien represents a landmark case. While freedom of opinion is vital to any progressive society, adherence to the facts is still the best defence in law.
One aspect of the case which will occasion deep concern is the suggestion that our response to complaints to the Press Council is one of laughing 'all the way to the bank'. Scant facts were adduced to support this contention, and it would be unfortunate indeed if a message were allowed go out that the Press Council was viewed in a disrespectful way.
Outside of noting that the Leveson Report cited the Irish system of regulation as a model of effectiveness, the present system offers those citizens who cannot afford the fees commanded by wealthy barristers a swift method of redress that does not line the pockets of the legal classes.
Irish newspapers do not see libel as representing an opportunity for tax avoidance. We understand a free press is a costly undertaking which entails serious responsibilities to shareholders, proprietors and our consumers.