Newspaper repeated libel after being told to apologise

 

THE STAR Sundaynewspaper deliberately repeated false and defamatory statements about a self-confessed and convicted child pornography user, a judge said yesterday.

Judge Joseph Mathews said that after directing Star Sundayto publish a correction and apology to Barry Watters, the newspaper had committed contempt in the face of his judgment by republishing the libel complained of.

He said the newspaper, during an adjournment to facilitate the parties reaching agreement on the wording of a correction, had refused to accept the order and judgment of the Circuit Civil Court.

In an article alongside a photograph of Watters the newspaper had stated: “We may have to apologise to this revolting pervert but will we mean it? Hell no.” Judge Mathews initially found that Watters had, despite his conviction and imprisonment for using child pornography, retained a residual character capable of being defamed and that he had been libelled by Star Sunday.

He said the newspaper stated: “Larry Murphy ‘the beast of Baltinglass’ has been rumoured to have become close to Watters, ‘another twisted pervert’, in Dublin’s Arbour Hill Prison.”

Hugh Mohan SC, for Watters, claimed the article implied Watters had been engaged in an illicit homosexual relationship with Murphy which he denied.

The court, under the new 2009 Defamation Act, had granted Watters (34) of Hazelwood Avenue, Dundalk, Co Louth, a declaration that he had been defamed as well as an order for publication of a correction and a direction prohibiting the newspaper from repeating the libel. Star Sundayhad described the new law as “bull****”.

Judge Mathews told Eoin McCullough SC, for the newspaper, that Star Sundayhad elaborated on a story in its sister paper, the Irish Daily Star, refusing to accept the judgment and court orders.