A High Court jury has failed to reach a verdict in the defamation action brought by Jimmy Guerin against Gemma O’Doherty.
Following a five-day trial, the jury said they were unable to reach either a unanimous or majority verdict.
Mr Justice Tony O’Connor discharged the jury and excused them from service again for five years.
The case will now go into the next session of civil jury cases in February for a re-trial.
Ronan Lupton SC, for Mr Guerin, asked that in the light of the fact that there has been a hung jury that “utterances that come from both sides” from now on be tempered. “I am not looking for an order but I am looking for a tempered approach”, he said.
Feargal Kavanagh SC, for Ms O’Doherty, agreed that in the interim period between now and February anything that is said “should indeed be tempered”.
The judge agreed with both counsel’s comments given that a new jury will be required and it should not be affected by what is said. He listed the case for the jury call-over in December.
The jury, which had been reduced to 11 after one was unable to turn up on Tuesday due to a family situation, early into their deliberations asked about majority verdicts as they said they could not reach a unanimous verdict. They were told by Mr Justice O’Connor they could reach a majority of no less than nine.
They deliberated for a total of around an hour and 40 minutes before telling the judge they were unable to reach a majority verdict.
Mr Guerin, a brother of murdered journalist Veronica Guerin, claimed Ms O’Doherty defamed him in social media posts and a website video which he claims meant he was a convicted paedophile.
He sued Ms O’Doherty, a former journalist with the Irish Independent, over the postings on Twitter (X), Facebook and her own internet video broadcast portal, Gemma.TV/gemmaodoherty.com, on July 11 and 12, 2019.
The Twitter and Facebook posts stated that “paedophile brother of Veronica Guerin, murdered with the involvement of Garda” had been found guilty of possession of hundreds of child sexual abuse images.
The broadcast includes a statement of “how the brother of Veronica Guerin” was found with large quantities of child sexual abuse images.
It was in fact Mr Guerin’s brother, Martin Guerin (73) who pleaded guilty in 2019 to possession of hundreds of images and 146 movie files of child pornography. He later received a two-and-a-half-year suspended prison sentence.
Jimmy Guerin, who is also an independent Fingal Co Councillor and a businessman, claimed the words published and broadcast by Ms O’Doherty were understood to refer to him and meant he was a paedophile.
The material was “cynically and deliberately calculated not to identify Martin and therefore identify Jimmy as the individual” who had come before the courts, he claimed.
He also claimed it was done to get back at him for comments he made the previous year when Ms O’Doherty was seeking the Presidential nomination.
Ms O’Doherty admitted publication but said her words were clearly intended and understood to refer to Martin. She also claimed Mr Guerin, by bringing the action, was deliberately trying to silence a journalist who have campaigned on corruption and child abuse issues over the years.
- Find The Irish Times on WhatsApp and stay up to date