Paul Williams sues Sunday Times over coverage of Charleton Tribunal

Newspaper wrongly stated Williams interviewed Maurice McCabe accuser with Noirin O’Sullivan’s son

Broadcaster and journalist Paul Williams is suing The Sunday Times newspaper over its coverage of the evidence he gave to the Charleton Tribunal. Legal papers have been filed in the High Court.

Mr Williams, who previously worked for the  Sunday World and later the Irish Independent, gave evidence before the tribunal last July.

Under Mr Justice Peter Charleton it is inquiring into whether a campaign was conducted from Garda Headquarters in Dublin's Phoenix Park to smear whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe.

It has already dismissed an allegation that former Garda commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan tried to use a false allegation of child sex abuse against Sgt McCabe to discredit him at the O’Higgins Commission in 2015.


When Paul Williams gave evidence he was asked about an interview he had conducted with the young woman known as Ms D.

In 2006 she made an allegation of historical child sexual assault against Sgt McCabe. The allegation was investigated and the DPP dismissed it, deciding that even if the allegation, which was contested, was true, it would not constitute an offence.

Mr Williams interviewed Ms D in 2014 for the Irish Independent and he was asked about this at the tribunal. He is now suing the newspaper over its report of his evidence, by journalist Justine McCarthy.

Specifically, the Sunday Times reported Mr Williams had travelled to Co Cavan to interview Ms D with videographer Ciarán McGowan, whose mother is Noirin O'Sullivan.

Now a Newstalk host, Mr Williams claims the  Sunday Times coverage was wrong in stating he had gone to Cavan with Mr McGowan.

And he also claims the newspaper’s coverage of his evidence implied he had concealed facts from the tribunal during his testimony.

When contacted, Sunday Times editor in Ireland Frank Fitzgibbon declined to comment. Solicitor for Mr Williams, Kieran Kelly, also declined to comment.

The Sunday Times has corrected its story and apologised to Mr Williams, Mr McGowan and  Independent News & Media.

The article appeared on July 23rd and was corrected and the apology issued two days later.

The apology is carried at the end of the amended online versions of the story, which was headlined ‘The journalist who became the story’.

“(It) was incorrectly stated that an interview between Miss D and Paul Williams was recorded by photographer Ciaran McGowan, the son of the current garda commissioner, Nóirín O’Sullivan,” the apology reads.

“The interview was in fact recorded by a female videographer and Mr McGowan had no involvement whatsoever in the matter.

“We apologise to Ciaran McGowan, Paul Williams and Independent News & Media for this mistake and take this opportunity to correct the record.”

Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times