BUSINESSMAN Denis O'Brien was last night awarded €150,000 after a High Court jury found he was defamed in an article in the Irish Daily Mail.
The jury of six men and six women decided to make the award after nearly three hours deliberation and hearing seven days of evidence.
The article was written by columnist Paul Drury and published on January 22, 2010, shortly after the devastating earthquake in Haiti, and headlined: "Moriarty is about to report, no wonder Denis O'Brien is acting the saint in stricken Haiti."
Mr O'Brien (54) claimed the article meant his involvement in the Haiti relief effort was a hypocritical act and an attempt to deflect attention from the Moriarty Tribunal report which contained findings adverse to him but which he strongly disputes.
The claims were denied by the publishers of the Mail titles Associated Newspapers, by the Irish editor-in-chief at the time of the publication, Paul Field, and by Mr Drury (55), who said it was a piece of opinion honestly held on a matter of public interest.
After the verdict, Mr O'Brien said he was "delighted", felt vindicated and "obviously very pleased at the result".
Asked about contrast between this €150,000 award and a previous High Court libel award to him of €750,000 against Mirror Group Newspapers, he said: "We live in different times."
He said freedom of expression was an important part of democracy. However, everybody should have a right to their good name and this case was all about his good name.
Solicitor Michael Keely, on behalf of Associated Newspapers, said his side was extremely disappointed and it was a very sad day.
The newspaper, he said, would uphold the right of all its columnists to give their views even though some may find it uncomfortable. He added they were considering whether to appeal.
Last night the jury agreed the article meant Mr O'Brien's involvement in the earthquake relief was a hypocritical act primarily motivated by self-interest and was an "ingenious feint".
It found the words in the article did represent the honest opinion of the defendants but did not find this opinion was based on allegations of fact proved to be true or that they may have been known, or might reasonably be expected to have been known, by readers of the article.