Creighton defamation case settled
A defamation case against Minister for European Affairs Lucinda Creighton has been settled, the High Court heard today.
Cork property developer Michael O’Flynn had brought the action against Ms Creighton over a speech she made to a summer school two years ago when she was a Fine Gael backbencher.
Today, Declan Doyle, counsel for Mr O’Flynn, told Mr Justice Eamonn deValera the case had been settled overnight.
The court heard she apologised to him and his family for any hurt and distress caused by comments she made about him.
Mr O’Flynn claimed those comments arose out of a speech in which she said, among other things, that there can be no room in FG for “cute-hoor politics”.
She also said FG in government must be “much more than Fianna Fáil lite” and cannot condemn FF for entertaining developers in the Galway Races tent while on the other hand extending the “biscuit tin for contributions from high profile developers who are beholden to Nama”.
Arising out of that speech to the MacGill Summer School, she gave an interview to RTÉ Radio in which she expressed unhappiness that Mr O’Flynn had financially supported an FG fund raising golf classic a few days earlier in the K Club at a time when he was one of the top 10 indebted developers to Nama.
Mr O’Flynn said she caused those defamatory words to be published which meant, among other things, he was not upstanding, that Irish life had been tainted by him, that he was responsible for low standards in public office and that he had received large sums of money from Irish taxpayers through the Nama process.
Ms Creighton denied the words were defamatory and were statements of an opinion honestly held. She relied on the defence of fair and reasonable publication and denied Mr O’Flynn’s reputation has been damaged or that he has been brought into odium, ridicule or contempt as a result.
The case opened on Tuesday before a jury of seven men and five women and the court heard evidence from Mr O’Flynn.
Today, the court heard a statement was to be read out by Paul O’Higgins, on behalf of Ms Creighton, as part of the settlement.
In it, she said she was happy to confirm Mr O’Flynn is an “upstanding developer and person who operates his business to the highest standards.
“He has not done any wrong and any suggestion to the contrary was not intended by me”.
She apologise and agreed to pay a contribution towards Mr O’Flynn’s legal costs.
Mr O’Flynn said in a statement afterwards he was happy the damage caused to his reputation by her speech and subsequent interview has been recognised by the court proceedings.
It was regrettable the case had to be brought but he was delighted to have received an apology in open court.
In a statement afterwards, Mr O'Flynn said: "I am very happy that the damage to my reputation caused by Ms Creighton’s very public comments in her speech at Glenties and her subsequent interviews with RTÉ and the Irish Times has been recognised in these court proceedings.
"It is regrettable that I was compelled to bring these proceedings and I am delighted to have received an apology in open court from Ms. Creighton.
"From day one, all I was seeking was an appropriate apology from Ms Creighton and a donation to Crumlin in recognition of her inappropriate comments about me, and it is appropriate that she has agreed to make a substantial contribution to my legal costs part of which I will donate to Crumlin Hospital Foundation."
He added: “I have been in operating in business in Ireland and abroad since the 1970s, and I treasure my good name both in my professional and my private life. Throughout my life, I have always operated to the highest standards, both in my business dealings and in my personal life, and I found it very hard to deal with having my reputation tarnished by Ms Creighton in that manner.
"As I’ve said, I treasure my good name and I will always defend my reputation and in this regard Ms Creighton’s full apology in court is for me a vindication and an appropriate outcome to these court proceedings. That is what I was seeking from this defamation action and I’m very glad it has been achieved.”