Former Quinn firm sues Fermanagh farmer over material posted online

Quinn Industrial Holdings alleges farmer circulated ‘defamatory’ material about it

Quinn Industrial Holdings filed its High Court action against Enda Corrigan from Enniskillen on Thursday. Photograph: Enda O’Dowd

Quinn Industrial Holdings filed its High Court action against Enda Corrigan from Enniskillen on Thursday. Photograph: Enda O’Dowd

 

Quinn Industrial Holdings (QIH) has filed High Court action against a Fermanagh farmer whom it alleges circulated defamatory material about the company and its top executives.

QIH alleges the material was posted online and also emailed by Enda Corrigan from Enniskillen, as part of a campaign purportedly in support of Seán Quinn, the former billionaire who in the recession lost control of his industrial empire, the remains of which now constitute QIH.

QIH has sought to link Mr Corrigan to the defamatory material arising from information uncovered in a previous legal action, when it sought from Facebook the names of anonymous posters critical of its and supportive of Mr Quinn.

Mr Quinn is not party to the legal action and has not been accused by QIH of defaming it.

Mr Corrigan comes from a prominent family in the locality. He is a son of the late former Sinn Féin politician and one-time chairman of Fermanagh District Council Paul Corrigan, who died three years ago.

The law firm Byrne Wallace wrote to Mr Corrigan earlier this month, acting on behalf of QIH and its chief executive, Liam McCaffrey, its chief operating officer, Kevin Lunney and its financial director, Dara O’Reilly.

QIH alleged that Mr Corrigan defamed it and the three executives in emails sent last year to several existing and former directors of QIH, including executives at US hedge funds that financially back it.

The allegedly defamatory material was contained in letters attached to the emails entitled “Questions for QBP management”. QBP is Quinn Building Products, QIH’s trading name.

The material was also allegedly posted on a website, cflcg.com (Cavan/Fermanagh/Leitrim Community Group) that is supportive of Mr Quinn in his attempts to win back control of the businesses.

QIH demanded that Mr Corrigan give 12 legal undertakings, including that he remove the website and a similar Facebook page. It also sought proposals for compensation.

Ten days later, the legal letter was posted on cflcg.com in its “News” section, under the heading “Legal Threats to Our Community”. The posting identified Mr Corrigan as “our chairperson”. It accused QIH of issuing “bully boy legal threats” and alleged six similar legal letters had been issued to other people.

High Court action

QIH filed its High Court action against Mr Corrigan on Thursday. He could not be contacted on a mobile phone number associated with him on Friday, while there was no response from an email address associated with him.

A woman who answered the phone at an address listed for Mr Corrigan said she was unable to pass on a message to him. His brother, who resides nearby, also was unable to assist in contacting him.

Earlier this month, QIH’s chairman, Adrian Barden wrote to its staff warning of a “resumption of false allegations and intimidation” against its executives by anonymous people purporting to be acting in support of Mr Quinn, who has previously denounced any such intimidation.

Hours after that letter was sent, a suspected arson attack was carried out by persons unknown at a Cavan tyre plant linked to the family of a QIH executive. There is no suggestion that Mr Corrigan or Mr Quinn had any knowledge of that incident.

In his letter to staff, Mr Barden also criticised a “resurgence of negativity and misinformation” about QIH and promised “robust” action against anonymous critics.

QIH last night declined to comment on the basis that legal proceedings have been issued.