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Court protects journalist and charity boss

A journalist and a director of a charitable organisation do not have to give evidence as part of a multi-million-dollar lawsuit in the US involving businessman Tony Quinn, the High Court has ruled.

Mr Justice Gerard Hogan set aside orders requiring Sunday World reporter Nicola Tallant and Mike Garde, a director of Dialogue Ireland, to give evidence before an Irish lawyer in Dublin as part of court proceedings in Denver, Colorado.

The judge said that both were entitled to avail of the protection of journalistic privilege, as envisaged under Article 40.6.1.i of the Constitution.

The US action arises from the sale of shares in International Natural Energy (INE) LLC, the holding company of a firm involved in oil exploration in Central America.

Tony Quinn is a shareholder of the company.

Former INE director Jean Cornec has sued INE, its chairwoman Susan Morrice and the firm's directors and affiliates as he claims he has not been paid in full for a $15m (¤11m) sale of his shares in the firm to Northern Ireland-born Ms Morrice.

The claims are denied and, in a counterclaim, the defendants allege Mr Cornec breached their contract of sale by engaging in wrongful conduct, including a campaign of disparagement designed to damage the reputation of the defendants.

As part of the proceedings, due to be heard next January, lawyers for the defendants in the American case secured orders from a court in Denver requesting the Irish High Court order that Ms Tallant and Mr Garde be deposed, because they had evidence relevant to their counterclaim.

Both Ms Tallant and Mr Garde, who have written articles about Mr Quinn and his affairs, resisted any order compelling them to give evidence.