Former GAA star awarded €310,000 damages
A former Kildare Gaelic footballer has been awarded €310,000 damages after a High Court judge found he was "grossly defamed" in two 'Sunday World' articles concerning swingers parties and the sex trade.
Mr Justice Tony O'Connor said the articles published in 2012 and 2013 amounted to a "very serious" libel and had an "immense" impact on Brian Nolan. On a scale of one to 100, the defamation ranked at 75.
He awarded €250,000 compensatory damages and €30,000 aggravated damages over the newspaper's conduct of its defence. He also awarded €30,000 punitive damages based on findings, including that the newspaper was reckless as to whether the details and suggestions in the articles were accurate or true.
Rejecting defence arguments the articles were in the public interest, he stressed the court's duty to vindicate the rights of citizens "will not be thwarted by the vacuous plea that there is a public interest in publishing salacious material without regard to the truth".
A native of Newbridge now living in Goatstown, Dublin 14, Mr Nolan (49), who played senior football for Kildare in the 1990s, sued over a July 15, 2012, article which described him as "the king of the swingers" and featured photos of him alongside women in lingerie whose faces were pixellated. Mr Nolan also sued over a second article on the sex trade in Ireland published on March 3, 2013, under the headline "Ireland exposed" and also including photos of, and references to, him.
Mr Justice O'Connor accepted Mr Nolan's evidence he was taken to swingers parties by his then partner, found them "distasteful" but attended four of them over 18 months up to 2011 to try and maintain his relationship.
He said the overall view from the 2012 article characterised Mr Nolan as "a principal organiser of orgies in the State with an underlying undertone of criminality".