Declan Ganley’s defamation action should be heard in US, says CNN

Businessman is suing broadcaster over report suggesting Trump administration pressured US officials to award his company a multibillion-dollar contract

International news broadcaster CNN claims a High Court defamation action against it by Galway-based businessman Declan Ganley has nothing to do with Ireland and should be heard in the US.

Atlanta-registered CNN is being sued over a report suggesting the Trump administration pressured US officials to award Mr Ganley’s telecoms company, Rivada, a multibillion dollar contract to build a 5G telecommunications network for the US Department of Defense without a competitive tender.

Two associated companies, Cable News International (CNI) Ltd and Turner Broadcasting System Europe Ltd, both London-registered, are also being sued.

Mr Ganley and Rivada Networks Ltd claim they were “maliciously” defamed in the broadcast and publication on the internet on October 20th, 2020.


They say they made a competitive and open request for information relating to the 5G project but say the CNN publication wrongly meant they had initiated a corrupt process to obtain the contract.

The defendants deny the claims.

On Tuesday, the defendants asked Mr Garrett Simons to strike out the proceedings against CNI and Turner on the basis that there is no evidence to suggest these two companies were involved in this matter.

There is a cause of action against CNN but it suffers from the difficulty that the issues involved are irrelevant in this jurisdiction, the defendants’ counsel Eoin McCullough SC said.

“We say it has almost nothing to do with Ireland,” counsel said. It was about Rivada companies, which are American, and all the events in the alleged defamatory publication happened in the US, he said.

CNN, the only party that should be a defendant, accepts there was publication in Ireland but in its defence it pleads truth, qualified privilege and reasonable publication on a matter of public interest, he said.

The subject matter pertains entirely to the United States, and if a trial were to take place, virtually every witness for the defendants would be in the US, he said.

Mr Ganley is a citizen of and lives in Ireland but it is to be assumed that he has a close connection with his American Rivada firm, of which he is chief executive officer and therefore enjoys a considerable reputation in the US, counsel said.

The court also heard that some 200 people in Ireland viewed the alleged defamatory material which was just around 1 per cent of the audience who saw it.

Mark Harty SC, for Mr Ganley and Rivada, said the Turner defendant was very much part of the alleged defamation because it was the distributor and licensed to distribute the material in this jurisdiction. Distribution was very much part of publication, counsel said.

He accepted the case against CNI was weaker but the court should not strike out the action against either of these two defendants given that they had not even lodged a defence.

Mr Harty rejected a suggestion that Mr Ganley was involved in “forum shopping” by choosing Ireland rather than America to bring his action.

This was not about a subject that was broadcast in the US for a US audience but was about the fact that CNN, which has a presence in this jurisdiction, is a multinational corporation that publishes information on its website and broadcast channel which is distributed throughout the world, counsel said.

The case continues.

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