Roy Keane legal action to be heard in Commercial Court

Action against Paddy Power relates to alleged use of ‘Braveheart’ billboards

Roy Keane has sued alleging his constitutional rights were breached when bookmakers Paddy Power used his face on a mocked up image of Braveheart prior to the Ireland Scotland European Championship soccer qualifier without his prior knowledge or consent.

The former Glasgow Celtic player also claims the advert was couched in “crude and vulgar terms” towards Scottish people and made a mocking reference to the outcome of the 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum when a majority of the electorate decided to remain within the UK.

The tone and the content of the advert does not represent his views or amount to anything he would say even as a joke. The disparaging message on the billboard posters he claims has endangered and harmed his connection with Scotland.

The Republic of Ireland assistant manager's legal action for damages, including aggravated damages, against Paddy Power plc was admitted to the Commercial Court yesterday.


The action relates to a billboard featuring Mr Keane as Scottish hero William Wallace, in a still from Oscar-winning film Braveheart, allegedly placed on the side of a 40ft truck and driven around Dublin ahead of Ireland's match against Scotland on June 13th.

The billboard contained a line adapted from the film: “You make take our points, but at least we have our freedom. (Ya wee Pussies).”

In his action, Mr Keane claims his image was very deliberately used by the defendant, a firm renowned for its controversial approach to marketing, for its commercial benefit as part of its advertising campaign centred on the Ireland-Scotland game.

It is claimed, given his high profile, Mr Keane’s image was central to the poster campaign. The use of his image in the advert was designed to give the impression to the public that Mr Keane and the defendant’s business were connected, he also claims.

This constituted “a serious and flagrant misrepresentation and a misuse of the substantial and valuable goodwill enjoyed by Mr Keane in his name, image, likeliness and professional reputation”, it is alleged. That amounts to breach of his constitutional rights, he alleges.

He is claiming damages under a number of headings including for Paddy Power allegedly passing itself off as a business endorsed by or connected to the former Manchester United Captain, injurious falsehood and breach of his constitutional rights.

Mr Keane also seeks injunctions restraining the bookmakers passing off its business and services as being endorsed, promoted or associated with Mr Keane; restraining it using his image to advertise or promote its business and from falsely representing that a commercial connection exists between the bookmaker and the former footballer.

Mr Justice Brian McGovern granted an application by Michael Howard SC, for Mr Keane, to fast-track the proceedings in the Commercial Court.

Jim O’Callaghan SC, for Paddy Power, described the action as “unusual” and said his side were neither consenting nor objecting to the action being admitted to the list.

Mr Keane was not in court for the brief application and the matter will return before the court in November.