GAA star receives more than €310,000 damages over 'King of The Swingers' articles
A judge has awarded a former Kildare Gaelic footballer more than €310,000 damages after finding he was “grossly defamed” in “offensive” newspaper reports concerning swingers parties and the sex trade.
Mr Justice Tony O’Connor said this was a “very serious” libel of Brian Nolan which merited aggravated damages. It “could have been worse” but on a scale of one to 100, he considered it ranked at 75.
Mr Nolan (49), a native of Newbridge now living in Goatstown, Dublin 14, who played senior football for Kildare in the 1990s, sued over an article published in the Sunday World on July 15th, 2012 which described him as “The King of The Swingers”.
He also sued over another article published on March 3rd, 2013 on the sex trade in Ireland with the headline “Ireland Exposed.”
Mr Nolan argued the articles carried a number of defamatory meanings, including he organised swingers’ parties for financial gain and was involved in the sex trade.
Mr Justice O’Connor found both articles seriously defamed Mr Nolan. He said the overall impression of the 2012 article was Mr Nolan was a ”major organiser of orgies “with a lurking undertone of criminality”.
The overall impression of the 2013 article was that Mr Nolan and others were immersed in economic activities involving the provisions of sexual services or activities, he held.
He accepted Mr Nolan’s evidence he was brought to swingers parties by a woman and attended those to try and maintain his relationship with her. He accepted Mr Nolan attended four parties and that he found them distasteful.
In relation to the 2013 article, the judge aso said there was “not a shred of evidence” Mr Nolan was involved in prostitution, pimping or any such type of illegal activity.
He warded €250,000 damages, plus €30,000 aggravated damages over the newspaper’s conduct, including its failure to reply to his initial letter of complaint. He also awarded punitive damages, arising from the Sunday World’s conduct towards Mr Nolan between 2012 and 2017, of €30,000.
He said the Sunday World had had little regard for the effect of its report s on Brian Nolan’s relationship with his estranged wife, his children, his family and community.
Mr Nolan lost access to his children following the reports and was shunned by his family and social circles, he said. This was despite his having pleaded with the journalist not to publish the relevant photos of him.
There was no basis for the newspaper’s “vacuous” plea publication of such “salacious material” or the intrusion into Mr Nolan’s private life was in the public interest, he also held.
He rejected claims concerning breach of the right privacy arising from circulation of photos of Mr Nolan taken while he was attending the swingers parties, including photos of him beside scantily clad women.