Tuesday 24 October 2017

Supreme Court wants to hear further arguments in €900,000 libel award case

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Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

The Supreme Court will hear further submissions next week on whether a defamation action against the 'Sunday World', in which a man was awarded €900,000, should go for a retrial.

Lawyers for the newspaper have argued the case should go to a full jury retrial, but this is being opposed by the plaintiff, Martin McDonagh, of Cranmore Drive, Sligo, whose legal team wants the Supreme Court to determine what damages he is entitled to.

The court last month set aside a Court of Appeal decision which overturned a High Court jury's award of €900,000 to Mr McDonagh.

The award, arising from a 1999 newspaper article describing Mr McDonagh as a "Traveller drug king", was labelled "perverse" by the Court of Appeal, which found evidence in the trial pointed "overwhelmingly" to the conclusion he was a drug dealer. However, the Supreme Court said the appeals court decision could not stand.

But Mr Justice William McKechnie also ruled that the original jury verdict was fatally flawed as jurors failed to answer one of the questions put to it by the court. The court has yet to decide what should now happen with the case.

Declan Doyle SC, for Mr McDonagh, said it would be wholly disproportionate to send the case back for a full retrial.

But Eoin McCullough SC, for the 'Sunday World', said there should be a retrial and that all of the issues in the original case should be put to the jury.

The court will hear further submissions next Wednesday.

Irish Independent

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