Judgment reserved in Lowry case

 

Judgment in a case where Michael Lowry is claiming journalist Sam Smyth called him "a thief" has been reserved in the Circuit Court.

In his affidavit to the court the journalist outlined matters to do with the McCracken and Moriarty tribunals after which he said: "What has been discovered about [Mr Lowry] leads inevitably to the conclusion that he is indeed corrupt, dishonest, untrustworthy and both unfit and unsuitable to be a minister or a TD."

Martin Giblin SC, for Mr Lowry, told Judge Margaret Heneghan his client did not agree with the findings of the McCracken tribunal that he had been involved in tax evasion. His client also did not accept the contention that he had lied to the Dáil in a lengthy personal statement made in December 1996.

He said Mr Smyth's affidavit was evidence of malice and an abuse of process and was designed to allow certain matters be put into the media. He said it was not true, as stated by counsel for Smyth, Eoin McCullough SC, that Mr Lowry's reputation was that of "a tax fraud."

Mr Lowry had been elected to the Dáil three times since the 1997 McCracken tribunal and had topped the poll in North Tipperary on each occasion. He had a reputation as a "TD, a former minister, a husband, a father and a neighbour".

Mr Lowry is seeking a summary ruling by the court under the Defamation Act 2009 instructing Mr Smyth to correct what he alleges were defamatory statements. The statements were made earlier this year on the  Tonight With Vincent Browne  show on TV3 and in an article in the  Irish Independent. Mr Lowry is suing the journalist but not the two media organisations.

Mr McCullough said the court at this stage simply had to decide if Mr Smyth had an arguable defence and the standard to be met was not a very high one. He said he accepted that the comments made on TV3 were defamatory but "it is entirely true to say that Michael Lowry was involved in a tax fraud." Not only had Mr Lowry cheated on his taxes over a number of years, but he had also "lied about it".

He said he did not accept that the comment made in the newspaper article was defamatory.

Judge Heneghan said she would give her verdict early in the next term. Both Smyth and Mr Lowry were present in court for the hearing.