Wednesday 22 November 2017

Businessman Declan Ganley claims High Court judge should recuse himself from RTE defamation case

Declan Ganley
Declan Ganley

Tim Healy

BUSINESSMAN Declan Ganley says a High Court judge who expressed views about him in the past should not hear a defamation action he is taking against RTE.

Mr Ganley, a founder the Libertas lobby group, claims Mr Justice Colm MacEochaidh should recuse himself from the case in which businessman says he was defamed in an RTE Prime Time programme in November 2008.

He claims Prime Time attempted to discredit him both personally and professionally and undermined his opposition to the Lisbon Treaty.

Mr Jusitce MacEochaidh said last month he will only recuse himself following a hearing on the matter in open court.

He set Tuesday (Mar 15) for the hearing of the matter to give the Ganley side an opportunity to file a notice of motion seeking recusal.

However, he was told by Paul Burns SC, for Mr Ganley, the motion had not been filed in time due to the fact that his client had not been available over the last few weeks to sign the necessary affidavit.

Paul O'Higgins SC, for RTE, said it was an abuse of process although Mr Burns said he took exception to that description.

Mr Justice MacEoichaidh, who was told there are a number of other preliminary matters which the court will have to deal with before the actual defamation hearing, said he was prepared to adjourn the matter until after Easter.

It would not be possible to deal with the other matters until the recusal issue was first deal with, he said.

There were special circumstances in this case in that Mr Ganley "is of the view that I lack impartiality in regard to him for expressing some negative view about him in the past".

He would not grant costs against Mr Ganley in relation to the fact the case was not ready to go ahead as scheduled.

Even though he was not dealing with the recusal motion at this stage, he thought it would be unfair to order costs against Mr Ganley at this stage as that could be seen as part of his alleged biased attitude.

Mr Ganley is a founder of wireless, broadband and cable TV networks in western, central and eastern Europe. He also founded and built up what became the largest privately held forestry business in the former Soviet Union, before selling it in 1997.

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