O’Brien and McKillen win temporary injunction against ‘Sunday Times’

Counsel for businessmen says newspaper got documents in breach of confidentiality

Lawyers representing Denis O'Brien, Paddy McKillen and the Sunday Times are likely to be back before the courts in a fortnight after the two businessmen won a temporary injunction against the newspaper on Saturday.

After a seven-hour emergency hearing at the High Court, Mr Justice Colm Mac Eochaidh granted an order prohibiting the publication of confidential material about the men's business relationship.

Paul Burns, senior counsel for Mr O'Brien and Mr McKillen, said the Sunday Times had obtained documents in breach of his clients' private and confidential business affairs.

Mr Burns said the damage to his clients could not be reversed if the newspaper was allowed to publish the information.


Luán Ó Braonáin, acting for the newspaper, argued there was a clear public interest in the publication of the information.

Although the judge did not injunct all the details pertaining to its investigation, the Sunday Times decided not to go ahead with the story with the injuncted details removed, saying it could not be published "in an intelligible form" given the court restrictions laid down.

The date for a full hearing of the case is likely to be set when the matter is next before the courts, expected to be in two weeks’ time.

During the emergency hearing, Mr Justice Mac Eochaidh criticised Mr O’Brien for making “contemptible” comments about Mr Justice Michael Moriarty in the wake of the judge’s tribunal report in 2011 and suggested Mr O’Brien, now seeking the protection of the court, was “in a peculiar position”.

Mr O’Brien was not present in court, but after a break in the hearing, Mr Burns said he had contacted Mr O’Brien who was “extremely concerned” by the judge’s remarks.

A spokeswoman for Mr McKillen, a property investor, said he was unable to comment.

Laura Slattery

Laura Slattery

Laura Slattery is an Irish Times journalist writing about media, advertising and other business topics