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Journalist denies implying O'Brien to blame for crisis


Businessman Denis O’Brien. Photo: Collins

Businessman Denis O’Brien. Photo: Collins

Businessman Denis O’Brien. Photo: Collins

Journalist Tom Lyons has denied before the High Court that a number of articles published in the 'Sunday Business Post' ('SBP') in 2015 meant businessman Denis O'Brien was among those responsible for the financial crisis here in 2008.

Paul O'Higgins SC, for Mr O'Brien, suggested the articles unfairly meant Mr O'Brien was among 22 people who had a land and development exposure of some €8.8bn when Mr Lyons knew Mr O'Brien had no development loans.


Mr Lyons denied the articles suggested Mr O'Brien had a big land and development portfolio and said they rather identified him as someone who had various loans for property.

He said a pen profile of Mr O'Brien written by him in the article headlined "The Gang of 22" was very positive about Mr O'Brien and made clear he was a successful businessman who had repaid everything.

Mr Lyons rejected a suggestion that the articles, based on a report by Price Waterhouse Coopers (PwC), did not tell the "truth" of that report.

He also denied that a graphic headed with the words 'Top Secret', and naming Mr O'Brien among eight other bank borrowers, involved selecting Mr O'Brien as being among "the principal offenders".

The eight were just well-known people referred to in the PwC report, he said.

Mr Lyons remains under cross-examination in Mr O'Brien's High Court action alleging defamation in the 'SBP' articles published on March 15, 2015.

The focus of the articles was the PwC report concerning the exposure of Ireland's banks in 2008, which was given to the government in November 2008 but not made public.

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Mr Lyons obtained it from a source in 2015 and gave evidence he shredded it shortly after publication of the articles to protect the source.

Mr O'Brien claims the 'SBP' articles, which ran over six pages, wrongly meant he was among a "gang" of 22 borrowers who "wrecked the country" and that they defamed him and injured his reputation.


The defendant denies the words complained of mean what Mr O'Brien says, denies defamation and malicious publication, and has also pleaded "fair and reasonable publication on a matter of public interest".

Mr Lyons was also asked about another article, written by him, headlined "The Gang of 22".

Mr Lyons has denied that use of the word 'gang' implied any criminality or wrongdoing.

The case continues.

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