Fahey settles libel action with Mail

 

Former minister of state Frank Fahey has received an apology and a six-figure sum under a settlement today of libel actions brought by him over articles published by the Mail group of newspapers.

Mr Fahey, who was in the High Court today, had sued over seven articles in the Irish Daily Mail and Irish Mail on Sunday relating to a number of allegations and references to the former Galway West TD and former marine minister.

In the apology read by a lawyer on behalf of the Mail, it was stated 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 his property dealings or otherwise, it said.

The apology said, in other articles in the Sunday paper published in 2006 and 2007, it was alleged 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 €2min fishing quotas which constituted 75 per cent of all compensation paid and that 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 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 read.

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 his 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.

Mr Justice Eamon deValera 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 he had received a six figure sum in damages together with legal costs as part of the overall settlement. Mr Fahey told reporters the series of articles were very hurtful and caused a lot of distress to his family and himself and he was delighted with today's result.