Newstalk to pay Harney more than €400,000


NEWSTALK, the radio station owned by the billionaire businessman Denis O’Brien, has reached a settlement for more than €400,000 with former minister for health Mary Harney in a libel action she had taken against the news station.

Lawyers for Ms Harney and Newstalk reached the settlement last month, according to a source with knowledge of the case.

Neither Ms Harney nor representatives of Mr O’Brien or Newstalk were prepared to make any comment yesterday, either to confirm the settlement was reached ahead of a High Court action, or to disclose the total amount agreed between both sides.

Ms Harney was defamed by commentator Nell McCafferty who was a guest on Tom Dunne’s show last year. Ms McCafferty later said she did not realise she was on-air when she made the comments.

The station made a series of unconditional apologies on air during the days following the libel and it is understood Mr O’Brien separately tried to contact Ms Harney to discuss the matter,

Mr O’Brien himself was awarded €750,000 in 2007 arising from a libel action he took again the Irish Daily Mirror. The award was then the highest awarded by an Irish court.