Man accused of child abuse sues alleged victim for defamation

DPP had directed no prosecution be undertaken following Garda investigation

A man who was accused of sexually abusing his nephew is suing the alleged victim for defamation, after no prosecution was taken following a Garda investigation into the allegation.

The nephew made a complaint to gardaí in 2019 alleging that he had been sexually abused by his uncle on several occasions when he was a young child.

Gardaí investigating the historical abuse allegation interviewed a number of family members and sent a file on the case to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP). In February 2021 the DPP directed there be no prosecution in the case.

Following the DPP's decision, the uncle filed a civil case in the High Court against the complainant last October, suing his nephew for defamation over his report to the gardaí.


The uncle, who previously worked in the education sector, denies the abuse allegations.

It had been alleged the man sexually abused his nephew in the 1980s in two separate properties in south Dublin when his nephew was as young as three years old, according to court filings in the civil case.

Several lawyers who specialise in defamation law said they had never come across such a case before, where someone who had reported alleged sex abuse to the Garda had later been sued for defamation by the person they accused.

The uncle said he had lived in one of the south Dublin homes where the abuse was alleged to have occurred for six months in the 1980s.

However, court filings from the uncle’s solicitor say he emigrated for a number of years during which the nephew says the abuse occurred.

‘Emotional stress’

The uncle, represented by Harringtons Solicitors, claims he was never alone with his nephew during the period where the abuse was alleged to have taken place, and only recalled seeing the child on one occasion at a Sunday family lunch in the presence of several other adults.

Interviews of extended family members by gardaí during the criminal investigation had repeated the claims and compounded the alleged damage to the uncle, his court filings state.

A Garda spokeswoman confirmed gardaí investigated the abuse allegation, and sent a file to the DPP, “who subsequently directed no prosecution”.

The uncle is to claim that he suffered emotional stress, psychological harm, and post-traumatic anxiety as a result of being accused of perpetrating the sexual abuse. His nephew’s complaint to gardaí had amounted to a form of harassment and caused him emotional suffering, court filings state.

The nephew, who is represented by MacGuill & Company Solicitors, did not wish to comment on the matter when contacted by The Irish Times.

The uncle similarly said he did not wish to comment on the case at present.

Dr Eoin O'Dell, associate professor of law in Trinity College Dublin and an expert on defamation law, described the case as "unusual".

Similarly, Ciarán Leavy, a solicitor with Lavelle Partners who represents clients in defamation cases, said he had not seen a similar case before. More common were cases where legal action for defamation was taken over accusations made on social media, he said.

Often in cases taken over alleged defamation online, the social media platforms where the allegation was posted have been sued, in some cases instead of or alongside the individual who posted the allegation online.

Jack Power

Jack Power

Jack Power is acting Europe Correspondent of The Irish Times