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Friday 19 January 2018

Byrne takes legal action over Google pic

FIANNA Fail Senator Thomas Byrne claims he has been grossly defamed by Google after the internet giant published a picture of convicted former solicitor Thomas Byrne in a web profile of the politician.

At the High Court yesterday, Senator Byrne won an injunction preventing Google Ireland Ltd from publishing, as part of its "Google Knowledge Graph" on the Co Meath-based politician, a picture of the former solicitor who was convicted of theft and fraud offences.

Mr Justice Paul Gilligan said he was satisfied to grant the interim order, under the Defamatation Act 2009, restraining publication of the image of Thomas Byrne, convicted solicitor of Walkinstown, Dublin, "as a photo and description" of the Fianna Fail Senator, who was a TD for Meath East between 2007 and 2011.

The matter comes back before the judge next Tuesday.

Earlier this month, a jury at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court found former solicitor Thomas Byrne of Walkinstown Road, Crumlin Dublin, guilty of 50 theft and fraud charges.

Jim O'Callaghan SC, for Senator Byrne, who is also a qualified solicitor, said it was clear that Google had "made a mistake" and there was no malicious intent.

However, despite being contacted by the Senator and his lawyers, Google had failed to respond to his complaints or remove the defamatory image, counsel said.

Google Ireland, with an address in Barrow Street, Dublin, had failed to respond to a solicitor's letter sent on November 26 and 27 last, counsel said.

In an affidavit, Senator Byrne, of Grange Rath, Colpe, Drogheda, Co Meath, said he was informed by a member of the public last Saturday about the image of the convicted solicitor Thomas Byrne appearing alongside his profile on the Google Knowledge Graph.

He said he had been left with "no alternative" but to bring a High Court action seeking to have the "grossly defamatory publication" removed.

Tim Healy


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