Friday, November 27, 2009

An ineffable judgement ...
... which is effing incredible.

The Irish Times, in September 2006, had a story by its Public Affairs Correspondent, Colm Keena. The story disclosed that the Mahon tribunal were investigating payments made to Bertie Ahern. Ahern, it was alleged, as Minister for Finance in 1993 had received considerable sums: these are now listed in various articles, including a consolidating one from the tribunal website itself.

The Irish Times identified David McKenna, chief executive of Marlborough International, as one of the contributors.

The tribunal went ape, believing that the article stemmed from a leak of a confidential letter it had sent to McKenna. The tribunal went to the High Court, to force the Irish Times and Keena to reveal the source of the leak. The paper refused, on the grounds of good journalistic practice. To further protect its sources, the Editor ordered all the documentation to be destoyed.

The Supreme Court endorsed the appeal by the Editor and Keena, saying that any restriction on freedom of expression had to be justified by an "over-riding requirement in the public interest". Game set and match to the Irish Times?
Alas, no!

The Supreme Court has now ruled ruled that the Irish Times, despite winning the case, must bear the expenses incurred by the tribunal in bringing the action.

That's over €600,000.

The full story is here.
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