Hanly v Newsgroup Newspapers Ltd

JurisdictionIreland
JudgeMr. Justice T.C. Smyth
Judgment Date10 March 2004
Neutral Citation[2004] IEHC 44
CourtHigh Court
Docket Number[2002 No. 13270P]
Date10 March 2004

[2004] IEHC 44

THE HIGH COURT

RECORD NO: 2002/11327OP
HANLY v. NEWSGROUP NEWSPAPERS LTD

BETWEEN

JOHN HANLY
PLAINTIFF

AND

NEWSGROUP NEWSPAPERS LIMITED
DEFENDANT

Citations:

RSC O.19 r27

ODGERS ON HIGH COURT PLEADINGS

QUINN V HESSIAN 1878 4 LR IR 35

DWEK V MACMILLAN PUBLISHERS 2000 EMLR 284

ASPRO TRAVEL LTD V OWNERS ABROAD GROUP 1996 1 WLR 132

OATES V MIRROR GROUP NEWSPAPERS UNREP 19.5.2000 CA

GATLEY ON LIBEL & SLANDER

DEFAMATION ACT 1961 S26

ASSOCIATED NEWSPAPERS V DINGLE 1964 AC 371

DEFAMATION ACT 1952 S12

DAWSON V IRISH BROKERS ASSOCIATION UNREP SUPREME 6.11.1998 1998/35//6302

ROOKES V BERNARD 1964 AC 119

Synopsis:

- [2004] 1 IR 471

Facts: The defendant sought an order striking out paragraphs 6, 7 and 8 of the statement of claim as being unnecessary or scandalous or tending to prejudice, embarrass or delay the fair trial of the action.

Held by Smyth J. in granting the relief sought that only material facts and not evidence on which they were to be proved should be pleaded. Paragraphs 6, 7 and 8 were referable to unrelated proceedings, with a different party and were scandalous in that they sought to introduce immaterial matters which would lead to the introduction of irrelevant evidence at the trial of the action.

Reporter: R.W.

1

Mr. Justice T.C. Smyth delivered 10th March 2004.

2

1. The defendant by notice of motion dated 10 th July 2003 seeks an order pursuant to Order 19, r.27 of the Superior Courts 1986, as amended, striking out paragraphs 6, 7 and 8 of the Statement of Claim in this action delivered on 20 thFebruary 2003, as being unnecessary or scandalous, or tending to prejudice, embarrass or delay the fair trial of the action.

3

2. The provisions of the Order and rule invoked provides as follows:-

"The Court may at any stage of the proceedings order to be struck out or amended any matter in any indorsement of pleading which may be unnecessary or scandalous, or which may tend to prejudice, embarrass, or delay the fair trial of the action, and may in any such case, if it shall think fit, order the costs of the application to be paid as between solicitor and client."

4

3. The Challenged material paragraphs in the Statement of Claim are as follows:-

"6".

5

Further and without prejudice to the a foregoing the Irish Sunday People on the 12 th day of May 2002 published a photograph of the Plaintiff with a series of articles with headlines which contained the following words:-

6

"G.A.A. Stars naked romp", "G.A.A. Stars wrecked the ladies toilet, urinated all over a bed and paraded stark naked round hotel", "One Roscommon player even seemed to chalk his own cue then carried on and potted the pink""Players to face discipline" and "Roscommon stars in dock".

"7"

7

As a consequence [of] this publication the plaintiff was injured in his character and reputation and exposed to ridicule and contempt. The plaintiff sought and obtained a fulsome apology from the Irish Sunday People which was published in that Newspaper on 12 th May 2002 (a date corrected in open correspondence to read 19 th May 2002) and in the following terms:-

8

In this paper last week we published a report concerning the behaviour of certain members of the Roscommon G.A.A. football team at a hotel in Derry. On page two of this report we published a photograph taken in the course of a match between Donegal and Roscommon. Mr. John Hanly was one of the players depicted in this photograph. We acknowledge that the use of this photograph in conjunction with the article could be understood by readers as suggesting that Mr. John Hanly, as a Roscommon player depicted in the photograph, was involved in the incidents described in the report. We fully accept Mr. Hanly was not involved in any way in the incidents described and that Mr. Hanly was not even at the hotel at the time of the incident. We accept that the article was defamatory of Mr. Hanly and caused him a significant distress and embarrassment. The Sunday People wishes to apologise sincerely to Mr. Hanly and his family for the grave hurt and upset caused as a result of this publication. We acknowledge that Mr. Hanly is a person of the highest character and reputation. The Sunday People has agreed to pay damages to Mr. Hanly and discharge his legal costs.

"8" The plaintiff hoped and believed that the aforementioned apology would vindicate and restore his good name, character and reputation but the publication by The Irish Sun of the defamatory material referred to herein a short time after the publication of the afore mentioned apology has neutralised the effect of this apology and further has aggravated the damage to the plaintiff's character and reputation and exposed him to further ridicule and contempt which has caused the plaintiff and his family severe distress, embarrassment and upset."

9

4. I will attempt to summarise the background facts relevant to the issues raised in this motion. In May 2002 a football match took place under the auspicious of the G.A.A. between counties Donegal and Roscommon. A number of players on the Roscommon team required or were given accommodation after the football match in a hotel in Co. Deny. Now, it would appear, that some members of the Roscommon team behaved in a disreputable, disgraceful and degusting manner. A report of this conduct appeared in the public press. The plaintiff who was a member of the Roscommon football team for the purposes of playing apparently returned to Dublin on the evening of the match — and was never in the hotel in Derry at the time of the matters reported in the press. Unfortunately by the juxtaposition of the team photograph and photographs and text depicting and describing the disreputable conduct the newspaper — The Irish Sunday People in their edition of 12 th May 2002 considered they left themselves open to a libel action and published an apology in their edition of 19 th May 2002 and paid...

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