Journalist sues ‘Irish Mail on Sunday’ for harassment and bullying
Alison O’Reilly also alleges she was defamed by the apology the newspaper printed
Journalist Alison O’Reilly alleges the Mail failed in its duty of care towards her and breached the terms of her contract
A journalist with the Irish Mail On Sunday is suing the newspaper for harassment, bullying and intimidation in relation to her interview with a woman who lost her family in the Buncrana pier tragedy.
Alison O’Reilly, who now works for the newspaper group’s daily edition, the Irish Daily Mail, was the first journalist to speak to Louise James after Ms James’s partner, mother, two sons and sister drowned when the car they were in slipped from the pier into Lough Swilly. Ms James’s baby daughter was the only survivor after she was rescued by an onlooker at the scene .
After Ms O’Reilly’s interview appeared in the Irish Mail On Sunday, Ms James complained that she was not aware she was being interviewed for the newspaper. This prompted the Mail to issue an apology in the following week’s edition stating Ms James “was speaking to our reporter in a purely private capacity and had not consented to being interviewed”.
In papers lodged in the High Court, Ms O’Reilly claims her employers were aware at the time Ms James did not consent to being interviewed and ran the article regardless.
Last March she lodged a case in the High Court alleging she had been defamed by the apology as it unfairly placed the blame on her and did not acknowledge alleged mistakes in the editorial process. The case will be decided by a jury.
On Friday, Ms O’Reilly took a second set of High Court proceedings relating to the incident. These proceedings, which were lodged against the Mail’s owner, Associated Newspapers, allege she suffered bullying, intimidation and harassment at the hands of the newspaper during its handling of the incident.
Ms O’Reilly also alleges the Mail failed in its duty of care towards her and breached the terms of her contract. The second set of proceedings will be heard by a judge.
Associated Newspapers declined to comment on the matter when contacted by The Irish Times.
It is understood Ms O’Reilly will claim she had signed off on the apology but had done so at a time when she was under considerable stress in relation to a threat against her safety relating to a separate matter.
Ms O’Reilly is one of the Mail group’s most prominent journalists. She has received awards for her work highlighting the Tuam mother-and-baby home burials.