Wednesday 21 November 2018

Beverley Flynn pays €1.2m libel bill after 2,300 days

INDEPENDENT TD Beverley Flynn has finally paid RTE -- some 2,300 days since costs were awarded against her in the High Court following a failed libel trial.

The national broadcaster confirmed yesterday evening that Ms Flynn's legal team was in the process of paying her €1.225m legal costs settlement -- the day before a deadline set at the Bankruptcy Court was to expire.

The payment is expected to result in Ms Flynn returning to the Fianna Fail party later this year.

"The payment is being made,'' a spokesman for the national broadcaster said last night.

"The bank draft has been drawn up and is with solicitors.''

Ms Flynn would have faced a full bankruptcy hearing if the payment had not gone through by today.

Efforts to contact the Mayo TD last night proved unsuccessful.

Ms Flynn's settlement of less than half of the actual legal costs bill was accepted by RTE in late June and she was given six weeks from early July to pay the €1.225m in one payment

Interest

RTE had initially sought costs of €2.3m, plus interest of over €500,000, after Ms Flynn's failed libel action against the station, journalist Charlie Bird and farmer James Howard in relation to claims she had assisted clients of National Irish Bank to evade tax.

After a 28-day battle starting in February of 2001, the High Court ruled that while RTE did not prove Flynn, a former NIB official, had helped Howard, she had helped others.

The TD's reputation was not damaged, a jury had decided, and they awarded her no damages.

In April of that year, High Court President Frederick Morris ruled that she pay the entire legal costs of the trial.

Ms Flynn appealed the case to the Supreme Court and lost that appeal in April 2004.

Costs were assessed at €2.28m in September 2005 and interest of €500 a day brought the total to €2,848,088 in June of this year before RTE agreed on the settlement.

The national broadcaster had earlier turned down a €590,000 settlement from Ms Flynn, and had moved to have her declared bankrupt.

The bankruptcy petition is expected to be officially thrown out on October 8.

Of greater significance is the likelihood that Ms Flynn will make a triumphant return to Fianna Fail later this year after a three year absence.

In 1999, she lost the Fianna Fail whip after she refused to back a Dail motion calling on her father, the former EU commissioner Padraig Flynn, to make a statement on a €50,000 political donation that he received from Tom Gilmartin, a Luton-based property developer.

Reinstated

She was reinstated pending the outcome of the Supreme Court appeal to her libel action, but was subsequently expelled after the appeal failed.

The Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, indicated earlier this year that Ms Flynn has a realistic expectation of holding a junior ministry at some stage during the lifetime of the current government.

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