Boy (10) gets €50,000 for cocaine libel

Wed, Feb 18, 2009, 00:00

THE HIGH Court has approved a €50,000 settlement for a young boy who claimed he was defamed in a newspaper article which had alleged a child had brought cocaine into school when the substance in question was baby powder.

Kalvin Dunne (10), John Kirk Park, Clogherhead, had, through his mother Gillian Dunne, sued Mirror Group Newspapers Limited over an article published in the Daily Mirrornewspaper on Saturday, March 24th, 2007.

It was claimed the article, which stated “a boy of nine was found with a bag of cocaine in a village school’s playground” and referred to “the highly addictive drug which could have killed him if he snorted or swallowed it”, wrongly meant the then nine-year-old Kalvin had brought a bag of cocaine to his primary school.

In an affidavit, Gillian Dunne said the story contained a false allegation that the boy brought cocaine, a class-A drug, into school and made it available for consumption by his fellow pupils and himself.

Ms Dunne said the story was untrue and that gardaí had established that the substance Kalvin had brought to school was in fact baby powder.

Yesterday, Mr Justice John Edwards said the case was “most unusual” and approved the settlement for €50,000, plus costs.

Earlier, Declan Doyle SC, for Kalvin, said the article was “grossly inaccurate” and “irresponsibly written”.

It was factually incorrect in several respects, including in its claims that the boy was found in the playground with cocaine, that he was caught showing off with the drug to others, that the school principal had confirmed the cocaine find, that the boy knew what it was, and that he was temporarily suspended from school.

Counsel also said it was accepted Kalvin did bring a bag of white powder into school in a recreation of something he may have seen on TV or in a film.