Fahey gets six-figure sum for 'Mail' libel
Former minister of state Frank Fahey has received an apology at the High Court and a sixfigure sum under a settlement of libel actions brought by him over articles published by the Mail group of newspapers.
Mr Fahey, former Galway West Fianna Fáil TD, had sued over seven articles in the Irish Daily Mail and Irish Mail on Sunday in which various allegations and references were made concerning him.
In the apology read by a lawyer on behalf of the Mail, it was stated that an article in the Irish Daily Mail on June 29th, 2006, had wrongly reported Mr Fahey was accused in the Dáil of having been involved in tax evasion in his property dealings. The paper fully accepted he had not evaded tax on these dealings or otherwise, it said.
The apology said that in other articles in the Sunday newspaper published in 2006 and 2007 it was alleged that Mr Fahey showed political favouritism in relation to the administration and implementation of the “lost at sea scheme” (set up by the Department of Marine to compensate fishermen whose vessels had been lost at sea).
The apology said the paper stated that two of Mr Fahey’s constituents had received €2 million in fishing quotas, which constituted 75 per cent of all compensation paid and, out of the €2.8 million paid out under the scheme, €2.1 million was paid to those two constituents.
“These statements were inaccurate,” the apology said. The paper acknowledged that the scheme did not provide financial support to the successful applicants and the replacement gross tonnage could not be sold or otherwise traded as a financial asset.
This was also confirmed by a subsequent Ombudsman’s finding, the apology stated.
The apology also referred to another article in the daily paper in May 2010 related to a change to pension arrangements of certain government ministers, including Mr Fahey.
The Mail said it wished to make it clear that this change did not result from lobbying by Mr Fahey to the then minister for finance, Brian Cowen, after Mr Cowen’s predecessor, Charlie McCreevy declined to assist him. Mr Fahey was only one of a number of former ministers affected by the change, it said.
The apology added: “We unreservedly apologise to Mr Fahey for any distress or embarrassment caused to him or his family by our reports.”
After the apology was read, Mr Justice Eamon de Valera struck out the three sets of proceedings brought by Mr Fahey against the Mail publishers Associated Newspapers at the request of Declan Doyle SC for Mr Fahey.
Afterwards, Mr Fahey’s solicitor, Paul Tweed, said his client had received a six-figure sum in damages, plus legal costs, as part of an overall settlement.
The allegations in a series of seven separate articles “constituted an extremely damaging and completely unjustified attack on my client’s hard-earned reputation”, he said.
Mr Fahey told reporters the articles were very hurtful and had caused a lot of distress to his family and himself. He was delighted with the outcome of the proceedings, he added.