Judgment reserved in case of 'Sunday World' reporter


JUDGMENT HAS been reserved in a case which the High Court has heard raises “key issues” concerning journalists’ protection of their sources.

The High Court has been asked to make orders compelling Sunday World journalist Nicola Tallant and Mike Garde, director of Dialogue Ireland, a charity which helps victims of cults, to give evidence in Ireland which will be used in an action involving businessman Tony Quinn in Denver, Colorado.

Both are opposed to the application.

The US action arises from the sale of shares in International Natural Energy (INE) LLC, a company in which Mr Quinn is a shareholder.

Former INE director Jean Cornec has sued INE, its chairwoman Susan Morrice and the firm’s directors and affiliates as he claims he has not been paid in full for a $15 million sale of his shares in the firm to Ms Morrice.

The claims are denied and, in a counterclaim, the defendants allege Mr Cornec breached their contract of sale by engaging in wrongful conduct, including a campaign of disparagement designed to damage the reputation of the defendants, including Mr Quinn. Mr Cornec denies the allegations.

As part of the proceedings, due to be heard in Denver in January, lawyers for the defendants in the US case secured orders from a court in Denver requesting the Irish High Court to grant orders that Ms Tallant and Mr Garde be deposed as witnesses in the case.

The defendants claim Mr Garde and Ms Tallant have evidence that is relevant to their counterclaim.

Yesterday, after the conclusion of submissions by all parties, Mr Justice Gerard Hogan said he was reserving his decision to later this month.

In a submission, Brian O’Moore SC, for Ms Tallant, said the evidence being sought was not necessary for the Denver case. He said information was being sought for the purpose of “beefing up” separate defamation proceedings brought by Mr Quinn arising from articles Ms Tallant had written.

Counsel for Mr Garde, Séamus Ó Tuathail SC, said his client’s right to receive and impart information should be protected.

Should his client be deposed, he said, there would be a chilling effect which could put people off dealing with Dialogue Ireland.

Counsel for the US parties, Jim O’Callaghan SC, said the Denver court obviously seemed to think their evidence was necessary.