Tag Archives: Denis O’Brien

Social Democrat co-leader Catherine Murphy and Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty TD on the plinth of Leinster House following yesterday’s Supreme Court victory.

Further to Denis O’Brien’s loss in the Supreme Court yesterday.

Michael Clifford in The Irish Examiner writes:

‘Mr O’Brien was looking to assert what he saw as his rights as a citizen in a democracy. His action was based on asserting a principle.

The 19 individuals [who had their private data removed from email servers in Independent News And Media and taken to the Isle of Man where the data was “interrogated” and costs covered by a company controlled by Mr O’Brien, Blaydon Ltd,] all of whom are undoubtedly people of high principle, will more likely be interested in receiving monetary compensation rather than a legal declaration.

If they can prove their case, they will be entitled to be well-compensated for a breach of their privacy. In such an eventuality, the money will have to be paid out by INM.

It would be something of a bitter irony for Mr O’Brien if, as the main shareholder, he had to stump up for a privacy breach on a court ruling, having experienced, in his own case, a ruling that his privacy was legitimately breached in parliament.’

Bitter irony for O’Brien if INM has to stump up over privacy breach (Michael Clifford, Irish Examiner)

Listen: Kildare TD Says Supreme Court Decision Puts Any Questions On The Strength Of Parliamentary Privilege Beyond Doubt. (KFM)

Yesterday: Dismissing Denis

Previously: We Shall Fight Them On The Breaches



The first in a bowel-loosening series of emails from Denis O’Brien’s solicitors after the posting of Ms Murphy’s speech in the Dáil, May 26, 2015.

Good times.

Previously: [REDACTED]’s 1.25% Interest Rate

This afternoon.

Leinster House, Dublin 2

Catherine Murphy (right), with Roisin Shoirthall her co-leader in the Social Democrats, and Pearse Doherty (above left) with Sinn Féin colleagues from left: Rose Conway-Walsh, Mary Lou McDonald TD and Eoin Ó Broin TD speaking to the media after businessman Denis O’Brien lost his appeal to the Supreme Court over statements made in the Dáil about his banking affairs.


From top: Denis O’Brien; Justices of the Supreme Court in NUI Galway today; Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty; Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy

This morning.

The Supreme Court (sitting in Galway).

Denis O’Brien has lost his Supreme Court challenge against a failed legal action in relation to statements made in the Dáil about his banking affairs.

The businessman claimed the two TDs in question were guilty of an “unwarranted interference” with the operation of the courts.

Mr O’Brien’s High Court action arose from remarks made by Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty and Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy under privilege on the floor of the Dáil during a debate in 2015 about the sale of SiteServ.

By revealing details about his dealings with the IBRC, he claimed the two deputies effectively decided a separate case that was before the courts.

An injunction was in place at the time in relation to an RTÉ programme.

Supreme Court Judgement Due Today (Newstalk)

Catherine Murphy said:

“The CPP found that I had not abused parliamentary privilege in making a speech which was very squarely within the public interest and that I acted in good faith at all times. I am pleased that both the High Court and now the Supreme Court have upheld that decision.

Whilst I am pleased that the courts have recognised the constitutional protections afforded to those of us who may find ourselves in the position of having to use parliamentary privilege for a matter of public interest, it is hugely incumbent on us, as elected representatives, to recognise that such privilege must only be exercised with great responsibility.

The public interest must always be to the fore and that is what has underpinned everything I have done to date.”


Following the Supreme Court’s decision and further to a High Court jury dismissing claims by Mr O’Brien last Friday that March 2015 articles about him in the Sunday Business Post were defamatory…

Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty told Seán O’Rourke on RTÉ Radio One:

I think this is a big week for freedom of parliament and parliamentary debate but also a big week for freedom of the press and, you know, I’ve thought about this over the last couple of days.

If both the judgement against the Sunday Business Post and now against the House of the Oireachtas went the other way – there would be a serious chilling effect in relation to what could be said, both in the press and on the floor of the Dáil in future.

“And I think remember as well, Seán, during this time, there was a period, during this time, when both Catherine Murphy and myself were putting information on the public record, that the press themselves were questioning whether they could report that information.

“So this judgement today makes it very, very clear, if anything good comes from this judgement: it is the fact that parliamentary privilege is sacrosanct, it cannot be tested before the courts.

“The decisions of the CPP in determining whether a deputy or a senator has abused parliamentary privilege cannot be tested before the courts. And that now clarifies it.

“And there’s an onus on us, as elected representatives, to use that privilege very, very selectively, in which we do. As I said, I had other information in relation to Denis O’Brien that I didn’t put on the public record.

“And indeed we have information that is given to us, and I welcome information like that, that is of a highly sensitive and confidential nature, that we decided not to put on the public record because it’s viewed by us not in the public interest and would be, in our view, an abuse of parliamentary privilege.”

Listen back in full here



Read the 42-page judgement in full here

Thanks David Kenny

Top Pic: NUI Galway

Previously: [REDACTED]’s 1.25% Interest Rate

‘Deputy Murphy Is Out Of Order’

Always A Privilege

‘It’s Important People Stand Up For Democracy’

Keeping Print Alive

Morrissey And Mar

‘Completely Incompatible With A Functioning Democracy’

Murphy’s Law

From top: Tom Lyons and Ian Kehoe outside the High Court last Friday; Marian Finucane (left) and her panel on yesterday’s RTÉ Radio One show, from left: Ellen O’Malley Dunlop, Irene Sands, Fergus Finlay Larry Donnelly and  Eoin Fahy

On RTÉ Radio One’s Marian Finucane show yesterday…

The newspaper panel – Ellen O’Malley Dunlop, Chairperson of the National Women’s Council of Ireland; Fergus Finlay former, CEO of Barnardos and former spin doctor for the Labour Party; Irene Sands, barrister; Larry Donnelly, Law Lecturer NUI Galway; Eoin Fahy, Chief Economist, KBI Global Investors – discussed the recent failed defamation case which businessman Denis O’Brien took against the publishers of the Sunday Business Post, Post Publications Ltd.

The segment took eight minutes.

Last Friday, a High Court jury, by a majority, found that articles published by the Sunday Business Post in March 2015 – about a seven-year-old Government-commissioned PwC report – were not defamatory.

At the outset of the item on the matter, law lecturer at NUI Galway Larry Donnelly said he thought the jury’s verdict was a victory for “rigorous”, “objective” and “critical” journalism.

In relation to reports that the costs of the case will amount to €1million – for which Mr O’Brien must pay – Mr Donnelly said this was an “extraordinary” figure, though admittedly not for the billionaire.

He also raised an article by Eoin O’Dell in yesterday’s Sunday Business Post in which the Fellow and Associate Professor of law in Trinity College Dublin argued that the case should never even have made it to the High Court under the Defamation Act 2009.

Mr O’Dell’s article, Mr Lawlor explained, said the act provides for other means to achieve early resolution of defamation cases.

Ms Finucane, in response said:

“Everybody is entitled to their good name and they really are and people feel it, very deeply, if somebody has a go at their good name.”

On Twitter, Mr Lyons noted:

CEO of Barnardos Fergus Finlay said he didn’t know Denis O’Brien well but he worked with the businessman briefly some years ago in relation to the Special Olympics and he thinks he’s “done a number of very great things with his money over the years” – a point to which Ms Finucane replied “indeed, yeah” before Mr Finlay said he was especially referring to people with intellectual disabilities and “stuff he [Mr O’Brien] should be really proud of”.

Mr Finlay went on to say:

“I said this to somebody last week, if you want to bring the National Children’s Hospital in on budget, on time and no messing about – put Denis O’Brien in charge of it cause he has those kinds of skills.”

“And I guess he has done things that, shall we say, are controversial but he seems to feel, I just don’t understand how somebody who is as rich as he is can’t let anything go. He must have terrible nightmares at night and must be constantly worried…”

Ms Finucane said:

“The thing about it is, if you were constantly being insulted and…”

She was interrupted by Mr Finlay who said he didn’t realise he was fat and bald until he discovered social media before saying his salary has previously been reported and he said one just has to read the dog’s abuse they get. He even suggested to Ms Finucane that she would understand this.

But she replied:

“I don’t read it.”

Mr Finlay went on to note that the Sunday Business Post, in yesterday’s paper, listed the 22 legal actions he’s taken against media outlets in the High Court.

He said, in the context of this list, his advice for Mr O’Brien would be to “get a life”.

Ms Finucane said:

“Well, he’s just not going to allow people to undermine his integrity…”

Later, barrister Irene Sands said:

“Mr O’Brien is entitled to bring suits, if he has the money to fund them, fair play to him, let him knock himself out but I do agree with Larry, I think it’s a very good day for the press in general and I do think they were vindicated…and I think the press took a very important stance and ultimately it came out in their favour.”

Just before the item wrapped up, Mr Finlay said that had the case against the Sunday Business Post not gone in the newspaper’s favour, “there would have been a real possibility, I suspect, of the Sunday Business Post going to the wall”.

Ms Finucane said:

“Right, well we don’t know that, we don’t know that.”

But Mr Finlay said if it had happened it could have had serious consequences for media ownership concentration in Ireland.

And Ms Finucane replied:

“Well, I mean that’s not what was on his mind. What was on his mind was his good name and he’s entitled to it.”

Ms Finucane added that Mr O’Brien is “noted for his generosity…particularly in Haiti”.

Last week, when Michael McDowell SC, for the Sunday Business Post, made his closing submission to the jury, he recalled how solicitors acting for Mr O’Brien had initially accused journalist Tom Lyons of criminality and acting illegally by publishing the contents of the PwC report which looked at the top 22 borrowers of six banks at the time of the property crash.

Mr McDowell said Mr Lyons was accused by Mr O’Brien of acting with malice and “consciously” deciding to damage Mr O’Brien.

The barrister said Mr Lyons and his editor at the time Ian Kehoe had thought about omitting Mr O’Brien’s name from the coverage out of fear of litigation but decided against this in the interests of transparency.

Mr McDowell said the SBP refused to take “the RTE approach” – in reference to evidence Mr Lyons gave about being told by RTE not to mention Mr O’Brien when he did a radio interview about his articles back in 2015.

The senior counsel also explained that Mr O’Brien initially said he didn’t know if he was one of the top borrowers in the PwC report as he had never seen the report.

Mr McDowell said Mr O’Brien said “it’s not beyond Mr Lyons” to just insert Mr O’Brien’s name randomly.

But, Mr McDowell said, once an excerpt of the PwC report was presented to the jury – after Mr O’Brien finished giving evidence – Mr O’Brien “changed his tune completely” and identified himself as number 10 on the redacted list of borrowers.

Mr McDowell said Mr O’Brien had effectively accused Mr Lyons of perjury and said Mr O’Brien had a “casual relationship with the truth”.

The above claims made against Mr Lyons were not recounted during the Marian Finucane discussion.

Listen back in full here from 37.50.

Previously: Closing Arguments


There you go now.

This evening.

The jury found that articles published in the newspaper on March 15, 2015, meant that the story of Mr O’Brien’s borrowings and the amount of the borrowings was telling and disturbing and that Mr O’Brien was massively overstretched and faced huge financial pressure in November 2008.

But the jury found none of this was defamatory of Mr O’Brien.

They were deliberating for just over seven hours.

Mr O’Brien must now pay the costs of the case, which lasted for 17 days in the High Court.


Denis O’Brien loses defamation action against The Sunday Business Post (RTÉ)



From top: Tom Lyons and Ian Kehoe arrive at the High Court this morning.

This morning/afternoon

The High Court, Dublin.

More as we get it

Jury In O’Brien Defamation Case Given Option Of Majority Verdict (Newstalk)


From top: Ian Kehoe, Tom Lyons and Denis O’Brien arrive at the High Court today

This afternoon.

The High Court, Dublin.

Justice Bernard Barton is summing up his thoughts to the jury before they retire to consider a verdict in Denis O’Brien’s libel trial against the Sunday Business Post over articles on the 2008 banking crisis.

The ‘sheet‘s Olga Cronin is live tweeting from the court and can be followed here.



Denis O’Brien arrives at The High Court this afternoon


This morning/afternoon.

The High Court.

The ‘sheet‘s Olga Cronin is live tweeting from the conclusion of Denis O’Brien’s libel case against the Sunday Business Post about articles on a 2008 Government-commissioned report by PwC on Ireland’s top 22 borrowers and can be followed here.

More as Olga gets it.



From top: Michael McDowell SC with Journalist Tom Lyons; Denis O’Brien with Luán Ó Braonáin SC at the High Court last week.

This morning.

The High Court, Dublin.

In the libel trial between Denis O’Brien and The Sunday Business Post

The ‘sheet‘s Olga Cronin was live tweeting from the court…


Paul O’Higgins SC [for Denis O’Brien] said that Mr O’Brien was clearly a wealthy man, written about in newspapers and involved in a certain amount of litigation but he told the jurors they could not make a judgment based on any such factor.

He said Mr O’Brien was not “coming the heavy” to destroy people. He said Mr O’Brien could have sued the former editor Ian Kehoe and former business editor Tom Lyons personally, but he did not do that.

He claimed Mr McDowell’s speech was not short of words but that very few of them dealt with what the case was about and said it was not about most of the things the defence claimed it was about, but was much more complex.

Mr O’Higgins accused the newspaper of presenting the articles in a sensationalistic, heavily coloured “get up” designed to wow the reader from the front page.

He said Mr O’Brien claims the message coming from the articles was that the businessman was one of the borrowers most to blame for the destruction of the Irish banking system and the subsequent bail out.

It was irrelevant if the newspaper did not intend to convey that meaning.

Lawyers deny O’Brien ‘coming the heavy’ for SBP (RTÉ)


From top: Denis O’Brien and his barrister Luán Ó Braonáin; Ian Kehoe (left), former editor of The Sunday Business Post, and journalist Tom Lyons (right)

This morning/afternoon.

The High Court.

Questioning has continued of Ian Kehoe , former editor of The Sunday Business Post in the libel action taken by Denis O’Brien over articles on the 20018 banking crisis published in the newspaper in 2015.

The ‘sheet‘s Olga Cronin is live tweeting from the High Court and can be followed here.

More as Olga gets it.



Denis O’Brien (top) and Ian Kehoe (above) arriving at the High Court today

This morning/afternoon.

The High Court, Dublin

Ian Kehoe, the former editor of The Sunday Business Post is being questioned by Denis O’Brien’s barrister Luán Ó Braonáin about articles on the banking crisis published in the paper in 2015. The ‘sheet‘s Olga Cronin is live tweeting from the High Court and can be followed here.


Rollingnews/RTÉ/The Law Library

This morning.

The High Court, Dublin

Businessman Denis O’Brien arriving for further hearings in his case against The Sunday Business Post over articles published in the newspaper on March 15, 2015, which detailed a 2008 report by accountants PwC into Ireland’s banks and their top 22 borrowers.

Legal arguments are currently taking place without the jury present.

The ‘sheet‘s Olga Cronin is live tweeting from the High Court and can be followed here.

More as we get it.

Leah Farrell/RollingNews