Monday 19 August 2019

Solicitor Kean wins €160,000 award over newspaper article

Mr Gerald Kean. Photo: Collins Courts
Mr Gerald Kean. Photo: Collins Courts

Tim Healy

Solicitor Gerald Kean has been awarded €160,000 damages after a High Court jury found he had been defamed in a newspaper article.

In a majority decision, the jury found an 'Irish Daily Star' report on a visit by members of the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) to his Dublin office defamed him. Mr Kean will also have his costs for the eight-day hearing paid.

The majority of the jury found the March 11, 2016, article meant Mr Kean was subject of a probe by CAB into the criminal activities of the Hutch/Kinahan gang after the Regency Hotel shootings.

A majority could not agree on whether the article meant Mr Kean was suspected by CAB of being associated with gangland crime and of facilitating criminal activity in his profession as a solicitor.

A majority also found, in the circumstances of the case, the manner and extent of publication was more than was "reasonably sufficient"; the article was not published in the course of, or for the purpose of, the discussion of a subject of public interest, the discussion of which was for the public benefit; and it was not "fair and reasonable" to publish it.

Mr Kean was in court with his brother, senior counsel Richard Kean, and a friend when the verdict was announced.

An application for a stay on the damages order will be heard by Mr Justice Bernard Barton next Wednesday.

He will also hear submissions on whether the article breached Mr Kean's privacy. That issue is not for a jury to decide.

After the verdict, Mr Kean said he was "very pleased" with the outcome.

"It was not a case I took lightly, it was very upsetting for me," he added.

Independent Star Ltd denied the article bore the meanings alleged and denied defamation.

It pleaded a defence under Section 26 of the Defamation Act of fair and reasonable publication for purpose of discussion of a matter of public interest in the public benefit.

Irish Independent

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