Mail article 'failed' to give 'facts'
Journalist Paul Drury said he was not a reporter but was writing an opinion article, akin to a sports commentator. Photograph: Collins Courts
An article about businessman Denis O’Brien in Haiti by a Daily Mail journalist “spectacularly failed” to give the “accurate facts”, Mr O’Brien’s counsel told the High Court today.
Paul O’Higgins SC said Paul Drury “didn’t even try to find out” about the facts of Mr O’Brien’s interactions with RTÉ reporter Charlie Bird before he wrote the opinion piece.
“You felt exempt from finding out the facts,” Mr O’Higgins said.
Mr Drury said he was not a reporter, he was writing an opinion article and, like Eamon Dunphy or Johnny Giles commenting on a football match, who would not phone Giovanni Trapattoni before giving their opinions, he had not phoned Mr Bird or Mr O’Brien’s company Digicel.
“I was doing exactly what a commentator on sports would do,” he said.
Mr Drury was giving evidence on the sixth day of Mr O’Brien’s action against the newspaper publishers, Associated Newspapers, two editors and Mr Drury alleging defamation over an article published on January 22nd, 2010.
The article, which was published shortly after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, was headlined: “Moriarty is about to report, no wonder Denis O’Brien is acting the saint in stricken Haiti.”
Mr O’Brien claims the article accused him of being a hypocrite over his efforts to assist the relief of Haiti where his telecommunications company Digicel has substantial interests.
Also this morning, Mr O’Higgins cleared up confusion around when Mr Bird had arrived in Haiti.
Yesterday, a number of witnesses said Mr Bird and a cameraman had flown to Haiti on January 17th on seats arranged by Digicel on a Jamaican government jet. But an RTÉ news report on January 15th appeared to show Mr Bird at the Port au Prince airport.
Mr O’Higgins said the dates had been mixed up in previous evidence and Mr Bird had definitely arrived in Haiti on January 15th.