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Millionaire claims report on sacking is libellous

MILLIONAIRE philanthropist Niall Mellon claimed in court yesterday that he had been libelled by a daily newspaper in a report that he had sacked a personal assistant because he wanted "to get rid of her".

The Circuit Civil Court heard that the 'Irish Daily Mail' in March last year had reported a claim by Helen O'Connor that she had been dismissed after asking him for financial help.

The claim had been made by Ms O'Connor, of Glenbourne Grove, Leopardstown Valley, Dublin, in an unfair dismissal action she had taken before the Employment Appeals Tribunal.

Ms O'Connor alleged she had been singled out for redundancy after she had approached Mr Mellon for financial help with an apartment she had bought from his company, Earthquake (Irl) Limited, Naas, Co Kildare.

Judge Alison Lindsay was told that the 'Irish Daily Mail' report said Mr Mellon (44), a property developer from Rathfarnham, Dublin, had sacked Ms O'Connor only two weeks before she was due to give birth.

Mr Mellon had denied in evidence to the tribunal all of the claims that had been made by Ms O'Connor but this had not been reported in the newspaper.

Ms O'Connor failed in her appeal on both the allegations she had been singled out for redundancy by Mr Mellon or forced into a situation of resigning, the court heard.

Mr Mellon was claiming defamation on the grounds that the newspaper had no defence to his claim but it was the newspaper's contention it had a defence of absolute privilege on the basis that Ms O'Connor's statements had been made before the tribunal.

Mr Mellon is not seeking financial damages. The case continues.

Irish Independent