News Irish News

Tuesday 22 May 2018

Rugby pair's privacy civil suit against the BBC 'will now go ahead'

Stuart Olding arrives at court
Stuart Olding arrives at court
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

Ulster and Ireland rugby players Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding are to pursue a privacy lawsuit against the BBC following their acquittal at Belfast Crown Court.

The action, initiated in 2016, had been put on hold pending the outcome of the rape trial.

Following yesterday's verdict, a solicitor representing Mr Jackson confirmed the action would now go ahead.

The civil suit was filed after the identities of the two rugby players were reported prior to them being charged.

Ireland and Ulster rugby player Paddy Jackson. Photo: Michael Cooper/PA Wire
Ireland and Ulster rugby player Paddy Jackson. Photo: Michael Cooper/PA Wire

Both men issued writs against the BBC seeking damages for misuse of private information after details were published in an online news article on November 1, 2016, months before charges were brought against them.

The report named the two players and said they were two of three men questioned about alleged sex offences at a property in Belfast on June 28, 2016. It said they were arrested that June but details had just emerged.

The lawsuit alleges negligence, breach of statutory duty and nuisance.

In a statement at the time, Mr Jackson's solicitor said he and his client were both disappointed and concerned that the information had been "leaked to the press" before the investigation had concluded and well in advance of any final decision on a charge.

In their civil action, Mr Jackson and Mr Olding contend their arrests were a private matter and they were not given sufficient notice for a right of reply before the article appeared.

Lawyers for the two players also raised issues over how the information was obtained by the BBC.

The case was last before the Belfast High Court last October, when it was adjourned.

The civil proceedings had been the subject of reporting restrictions which prevented them being named, but this was lifted in June last year when the players confirmed they were no longer seeking anonymity.

Mr Jackson has also initiated a separate civil action against a freelance sports journalist and persons unknown in the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

But details of this case have yet to be outlined in court.

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News