Kate Fitzgerald

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Many people have asked us why we removed the two posts concerning Kate Fitzgerald, the 25-year-old writer and PR consultant who took her own life in August.

The short answer is that we were scared.

Our first post on Saturday was a direct report and link to an Irish Times article on Kate’s life and death by Peter Murtagh.

The article revealed that Kate was the author of an anonymous column that was published in the paper in September. This was a plea for a greater understanding of depression in the Irish workplace. It detailed Kate’s own struggle, a suicide attempt and hospitalisation and her disappointment at the subsequent attitude of her employer towards her condition.

After we posted the item it became clear that Kate’s employer had been The Communications Clinic, the media training company owned by Terry Prone, her husband Tom Savage, and their son, Anton Savage.

We then discovered that a month before Kate’s suicide, Karagh Fox, a 26-year-old employee at the company, at an Employment Appeals Tribunal hearing, made a number of serious claims against senior staff and management at the Communications Clinic alleging bullying and intimidation. The case appears to have been settled in October.

On Monday morning, we posted Kate’s column from the Irish Times alongside a report in the Irish Independent of the tribunal hearing which included the allegations made by Ms Fox.

On Monday afternoon we noticed the original article by Kate on the Irish Times website had been crudely altered. Three key paragraphs relating to her employer had been removed without explanation.

The excised sentences from Kate’s column were among those we had published ourselves. The Irish Times, we have since learned, removed the paragraphs under legal advice after The Communications Clinic registered its “unhappiness” with the article.

Later that evening we were warned by a journalist that a “libel landmine” was about to “blow up in our faces”, that Kate had been “mentally ill” and that she had never complained to her colleagues or management about their attitude towards her illness. We now understand and it is our honestly held view that the journalist was told to issue the message to us and that it had originally come from a senior member of the Communications Clinic.

At about 1.30am, after getting legal advice, we removed the posts.

Yesterday morning, we received an email from Kate’s mother Sally Fitzgerald.

She said she was horrified at the Irish Times for “butchering” her daughter’s article and was concerned that we had removed our posts under threat of legal action.

We spoke with Sally on the phone and explained to her the sequence of events that led to us taking down our posts.

Sally and her husband Tom wish to make it clear that they back “every word” Kate wrote in her original article.

We have reinstated both posts because we believe it is in the public interest to do so and they are available below.

The Story Of Kate Fitzgerald

A Breakdown In Communications

She Radiated Talent, Energy, Beauty. She Took Her Own Life At 25 (Peter Murtagh, Irish Times)

Kate’s original article (cached from Irish Times archive, September 9, 2011)

5pm Update: The voicemail which warned of the “libel landmine” [that] was going to “blow up in our faces” (see above) has disappeared. It had been saved, the contents transcribed and was last played back at 2pm today. We have contacted Vodafone who have told us that it is highly unusual as all voicemails can be retrieved, even if deleted, within 24 hours.