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Court dismisses media contempt case

THE High Court has dismissed an application to have editors and journalists of two daily newspapers jailed for alleged contempt of court.

Patrick Kelly (33), a qualified teacher of Deansrath Avenue, Clondalkin, Dublin, has brought motions seeking to jail Irish Independent Editor Gerry O'Regan; Michael Denieffe, Managing Editor of Independent Newspapers Ireland; Irish Independent Legal Editor Dearbhail McDonald; 'Irish Times' Editor Kevin O'Sullivan; and 'Irish Times' Legal Affairs Editor Carol Coulter,

Mr Kelly claimed he was entitled to orders jailing the respondents, and seizing the assets of the newspapers, on grounds of articles published in July 2011 of court proceedings he was involved in which, he claimed, were inaccurate, unfair and prejudicial to him and amounted to a criminal contempt of an action he has brought before the High Court.

The respondents denied contempt.

In his ruling yesterday Mr Justice John Hedigan said he was satisfied to dismiss the motions against the newspapers after finding the articles published could not prejudice Mr Kelly's High Court action.

Mr Kelly's application concerned articles published in the two papers concerning a ruling by the European Court in Luxembourg.

That ruling arose out of proceedings, yet to be decided, brought by Mr Kelly against University College Dublin after he was refused entry in 2002 to the UCD Social Science master's degree course.

He sought unredacted information from UCD relating to the qualifications of candidates selected to take part in the course.

When the matter came before the High Court in 2011, several questions arising out of the case were referred to the European Court of Justice.

The ECJ issued its determination last July and, the following day, the Irish Independent and 'The Irish Times' published articles about that ruling.

The judge said that Mr Kelly's real complaint in this action was about the public perception of him and his case after it was reported that he had lost.

The judge said he was satisfied that the articles complained of were not in contempt of court. The judge also awarded the newspapers their costs.

Irish Independent