‘Kehoe v RTÉ’

 

Sir, – The decision by the jury in the Kehoe v RTÉ libel trial to apportion responsibility is an interesting one.

Historically there has mostly been a joint liability between publisher or broadcaster and author with the publisher or broadcaster being the insured party. This latter fact has often allowed contributors on live programmes to speak provocative and occasionally recklessly because they believe their liability will be covered.

In apportioning blame 65/35, the jury is clearly willing to differentiate between the two. Contributors to live programmes need to sit up and take notice. They may find themselves in court more often.

Social media companies such as Facebook, Twitter, and others should also take note. They have largely avoided libel payouts and the need for editorial scrutiny, arguing that they are not publishers, merely conduits for commentary. Future juries may beg to differ. – Yours, etc,

WILLIE O’REILLY,

Milltown, Dublin 6.