McAreavey wins damages and apology from newspaper

Irish Daily Mail published CCTV stills of another couple arguing in hotel

A file image showing John McAreavey, husband of Michaela McAreavey,  arriving at the Supreme Court in Port Louis, Mauritius during the trial of two men for her murder during their  honeymoon. Photograph: PA

A file image showing John McAreavey, husband of Michaela McAreavey, arriving at the Supreme Court in Port Louis, Mauritius during the trial of two men for her murder during their honeymoon. Photograph: PA

Thu, Mar 14, 2013, 14:06

The husband of murdered schoolteacher Michaela McAreavey is to receive a five-figure sum in damages following the publication by a newspaper of CCTV stills of another couple arguing in their honeymoon hotel.

In a settlement announced at the High Court in Belfast today, a lawyer for the Irish Daily Mail also issued an unreserved apology to John McAreavey for using “potentially misleading images”.

Mr McAreavey sued over an article which appeared during the trial of two men later acquitted of murdering his wife.

Michaela McAreavey (27) the daughter of Tyrone Gaelic football team manager Mickey Harte, was found strangled in their honeymoon suite at the Legends Hotel in Mauritius in January 2011.

Her husband was in court for the resolution to his defamation action.

Michael Kealey, for defendants Associated Newspapers (Ireland) Ltd, said in a statement: “An article published in the June 15th, 2012, edition of the Irish Daily Mail included stills taken from CCTV footage showing what the newspaper described as an ‘arguing couple’, and which were presented in such a way as to potentially infer that they may have been John McAreavey and his late wife, Michaela.

“In fact, the footage was of a German couple, as has been unequivocally accepted by the authorities in Mauritius.”

Mr Kealey continued: “The defendant acknowledges that these potentially misleading images were published at an extremely difficult and traumatic time for John McAreavey and caused him significant distress.

“The defendant unreservedly apologises to John McAreavey and very much regrets the distress caused by the publication of this material.

“The Irish Daily Mail is committed to supporting John McAreavey in his fight to ensure that those who were responsible for the brutal murder of his beloved Michaela are held to account for their actions.”

It is understood a five-figure sum is to be paid in damages.

Outside the court Mr McAreavey’s lawyer, Paul Tweed of Johnsons law firm, said: “The Irish Daily Mail’s publication of a photograph of John McAreavey, interspersed within a series of CCTV stills of a German couple arguing, could not have been published at a more difficult and sensitive time which criminal proceedings had been ongoing in Mauritius.

He said although his client was happy with the comprehensive apology and payment of appropriate damages and costs, “the article should not have been published”.