Johnson v Gaelic Press and Larkin

CourtSupreme Court (Irish Free State)
Judgment Date29 July 1926
Docket Number(1924. No 9821.)
Date29 July 1926

Supreme Court.

(1924. No 9821.)
Johnson v. Larkin and The Gaelic Press

Practice - Parties - Joinder of defendants - Libel - Joint tort - Severance of damages - New trial as to part of matter at issue - Jurisdiction to set aside verdict on motion of co-defendant—Or. XXXIX, r. 7.

Motion by the defendant, James Larkin, for a new trial of all the issues in the action between the plaintiff and himself. The motion was founded on the following grounds:—1, That the verdict was against the weight of evidence; 2, that the amount of damages was excessive; 3, that there was misdirection upon the question of the possibility of apportioning damages as between the respective defendants.

The action was brought against both defendants for damages for libel and for an injunction restraining them from printing and publishing, falsely and maliciously, libellous statements of and concerning the plaintiff in "The Irish Worker" newspaper.

The plaintiff, Thomas Johnson, is a member of Dáil Éireann éireannand a Labour leader. The defendant, James Larkin, is a trade union organiser and editor and proprietor of "The Irish Worker." The defendants, the Gaelic Press, are printers and publishers, and they printed and published "The Irish Worker."

The statement of claim having set out these facts in the first paragraph, proceeded:—

2. The defendant, James Larkin, falsely and maliciously wrote and published, or procured to be published, of and concerning the plaintiff in the issue of "The Irish Worker" bearing date the 24th May, 1924, the words and figures following:—

"Johnson Incites to Chaos.

Johnson's T.D. attitude towards the unemployed has now been defined by himself. Hereunder we give his statement in

the Dáil—taken from the 'Irish Independent' of Wednesday, 21st inst.—and append the correspondence between the unemployed ex-soldiers and the Government and Dáil members:—

'Mr. Johnson (Lab.) thought the Ministry was bound to take notice of the representations made regarding pensions. Referring to the letter the demobilised soldiers sent to members of the Dáil, he hoped that kind of solicitation would not be repeated by any organisation which required sympathy or assistance.

'The Government must take warning of a rising tide of agitation and discontent not only amongst demobilised soldiers.

'The unemployment question would have to be dealt with in a very much bigger manner than the Government seemed to have ever dreamt of. This evil of unemployment was as serious as that other problem that confronted the Government two years ago, and would have to be dealt with in the same manner. They would have to raise a civil and industrial army.'

Dealing with the problem 'in the same manner' as the 'problem that confronted the country two years ago' means that the workers thrown out of work as a direct result of the murderous and suicidal policy of the 'Government,' of which Mr. Johnson is one of the admirers, must be shot down, even as the 'Irregulars' were, in the event of their agitating for work. It is time Labour dealt with this English traitor. Months ago we told our readers that Johnson was going over to Capitalism, and by that we meant his services were in the market. He has now gone further than any capitalist dare have gone, for his incitement to murder the workers is the most blood-minded and callous statement in our times, not excepting his call on the Government a year and a half ago to wipe out Republicanism, 'even if it cost as much more.' Johnson is a member of the Irish Union of Distributive Workers and Secretary of the 'Irish Labour Party.' What do the rank and file in the Distributive Workers' Union intend to do about it? Are they satisfied to be shot down like dogs when they agitate for work? If they do not get rid of this scoundrel at once, they will get the bullet and bayonet in reward for their 'loyalty' to what he stands for. Behind Johnson in the 'Irish Labour Party' stand William O'Brien, I.T. and G.W. Union, and Senator Foran, I.T. and G.W.U. Let it not be forgotten. The Gas Works strike is now on in the city, and the opportune moment has been chosen for the new policy. If a single gas worker is shot, as a result of Johnson's incitement to murder, the blood of the victim is on the head of Johnson. Let it not be forgotten. The last sentence in Johnson's statement is an invitation to the 'Government' to organise an army of scabs. 'They would have to raise a civil and industrial army.' But plainly the meaning is that the 'Government' must have an army of scabs to break any strike or lock-out precipitated by the bosses of Irish Capitalism. If this does not open the eyes of the workers to the chronic ruffianism of Johnson, there is nothing for them but a dose of the lead which Johnson promises to those who dare to look for work."

3. The said words were a libel on and defamatory of the plaintiff, and held the plaintiff up to public odium, contempt, and hatred.

4. The plaintiff further says that by the said words the defendant, James Larkin, meant and was understood to mean as follows:—

That the plaintiff had advised the "Government" and stated in Dáil Éireann éireann that workers thrown out of work must be shot down, even as the "Irregulars" were. That the plaintiff was an English traitor and was going over to Capitalism, and that his services as a Labour leader were for sale in the market, and that the plaintiff had thereby betrayed his followers and supporters. That the plaintiff had stated in effect that the Government should organise an army of "scabs," and that the Government must have an army of "scabs" to break any strike or lock-out brought about by Irish capitalists.

5. The defendants, the Gaelic Press, on or about the 24th May, 1924, falsely and maliciously printed and published of and concerning the plaintiff the article headed "Johnson Incites to Chaos," set out in paragraph 2 hereof; and the plaintiff repeats paragraphs 3 and 4 hereof in respect of the said printing and publication herein complained of.

6. By reason of the premises the plaintiff suffered great loss and damage, and has been held up to public odium and contempt, and the plaintiff suffered in his character and reputation and in the plaintiff's trade and business as Labour leader, and the plaintiff was put to great annoyance, inconvenience, and expense.

7. The plaintiff...

To continue reading

Request your trial
2 cases
  • Treacy v Robinson Son, Ltd and Others McGovern v Same defendants
    • Ireland
    • Supreme Court (Irish Free State)
    • 29 July 1937
    ...L. T. R. 210. (20) [1911] 2 I. R. 489. (21) [1922] 2 K. B. 87. (22) [1921] 2 I. R. 274. (23) [1932] I. R. 726. (24) 3 M. & W. 402. (25) [1926] I. R. 40. (1) [1922] 2 K. B. 87. (2) [1921] 2 K. B. 664. (3) [1921] 2 I. R. 274. (4) 6 C. & P. 501. (5) L. R. 4 Q. B. 476. (6) 13 C. B. 237. (7) 43 ......
  • Kehoe v Raidió Teilifís Éireann
    • Ireland
    • High Court
    • 21 June 2018
    ...referred to Gatley 12th Ed. on Libel and Slander at para 9.35 where the Irish decisions in Dawson v. McClelland [1899] 2 I.R. 486, Johnson v. Larkin & Anor [1926] I.R. 640 and the English decision in Veliu v. Mazrekaj [2007] 1 W.L.R 495 are cited as authority. 27 These Irish cases are also ......

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT