Deceased priest's lover wins libel actions

 

Ms Phyllis Hamilton, the lover of the deceased Dublin priest Father Michael Cleary, yesterday settled her High Court libel actions against the Irish Sun and Daily Mirror newspapers for undisclosed substantial damages and costs.

Mr Hugh Mohan SC, for Ms Hamilton and her son Ross, said that the libel actions arose from articles published in 1995 concerning the nature of the relationship between Ms Hamilton and Father Cleary. These stated that Ms Hamilton had been untruthful in stating that Ross was her son and the son of Father Cleary.

Following proceedings in the Circuit Court, it was declared in 1999 that Father Cleary was the father of Ross Hamilton, counsel said.

Ms Hamilton, of Mount Harold Terrace, Leinster Road, Rathmines, Dublin, who is seriously ill, was accompanied in court by Ross (24) and by her sister, Mrs Yvonne Brogna, who had travelled from the United States.

Apologies were read out in court by barristers acting on behalf of MGN Ltd, publishers of the Daily Mirror; a Mirror journalist, Mr John Kierans; Newsgroup Newspapers Ltd and News International Newspapers Ltd, publishers of the Irish Sun; and an Irish Sun journalist, Mr Patrick Clancy.

Following the court hearing, Ms Hamilton said: "After all this time, we are glad it is over and we are exonerated. We are trying to get on with our lives and see a little bit of sunshine on the horizon."

Two libel actions were brought by Ms Hamilton against the Irish Sun arising out of articles concerning her which were published on June 26th and June 28th, 1995. The action against the Daily Mirror arose out of an article published on June 26th, 1995.

In their apologies, the newspapers withdrew the allegations and apologised for hurt and distress caused to Ms Hamilton.

Mr Mohan said that the Daily Mirror's front-page headline, "Blackmail", had been particularly hurtful.