Former Galway West TD Frank Fahey has been granted a substantial six-figure sum in a settlement with the publishers of the Irish Daily Mail and the Mail On Sunday.
At the High Court yesterday, settlement was agreed between the parties with Mr Fahey to be paid the substantial sum, plus his legal costs, for alleged inaccurate allegations in seven separate articles.
Mr Fahey took the action against Associated Newspapers for articles written in 2006, 2007 and 2010.
Speaking to The Advertiser, he said that he is delighted with the outcome.
“I am very happy with the result. I have finally been completely vindicated after a protracted campaign of vilification by the Mail newspapers and their journalist Tom Felle.
“These unfounded and very damaging articles have caused my family and I considerable distress, but we're very satisfied with this conclusive outcome this morning. I would like to thank Paul Tweed for his work on this case. ”
In an apology read on behalf of Associated Newspapers in the High Court, it apologised for what it said was "a number of allegations and references" to the former Galway West TD.
The court heard that it admitted "wrongly" reporting that Mr Fahey was accused in the Dáil of being involved in tax evasion in relation to property dealings.
In articles in 2006 and 2007, the newspapers said that they published statements "that were inaccurate" in relation to his administration of the Lost at Sea Scheme.
They said that in May 2010 they reported on changes in pension arrangements of certain former government ministers, saying today "we wish to make it clear the changes did not result from lobbying from Mr Fahey".
In a statement released yesterday by Paul Tweed, the counsel for Mr Fahey, said that the apology read before the court was one of the most extensive and comprehensive in recent times. The statement read
“Frank Fahey has this morning received from Associated Newspapers, publishers of the Irish Daily Mail and Irish Mail on Sunday, one of the most extensive and comprehensive apologies to be read before the Court in recent times.
“He had been the subject of no less than seven separate articles containing a number of totally unfounded allegations relating to his actions when he was Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources regarding the Lost at Sea Scheme, all written by Tom Felle, and separate allegations relating to his pension and tax affairs. Taken together, these allegations constituted an extremely damaging and completely unjustified attack on my client’s hard earned reputation.
“The six figure sum in damages paid to Frank Fahey, together with his legal costs, as part of an overall settlement, reflect the gravity of the slurs on his character and the consequences for him arising from the publication of these outrageous allegations.
“Frank Fahey, and his father before him, had always acted in what he believed to be the best interests of his constituents in Galway West. He has fought for their interests over a period of many years and was absolutely appalled by the suggestion that he had not acted with the utmost integrity and fairness at all times.
While this comprehensive apology has come very late in the day, my client is nonetheless very satisfied with what is an unequivocal and complete vindication of his reputation.
“Mr Fahey’s family endured hurtful comments over these false accusations. They and he appreciate the support they received from the people of Galway West during the course of the past six years,” Mr Tweed’s statement concluded.
The apology read that in a series of seven articles in the Irish Daily Mail and Irish Mail on Sunday between June 2006 and May 2010 the newspaper made a number of allegations and references to former Galway West TD Frank Fahey.
“In particular, in an article published in the Irish Daily Mail on 29th June, 2006 we wrongly reported that Mr Fahey was accused in the Dail of having been involved in tax evasion in his property dealings. We fully accept that Mr Fahey has not evaded tax on his property dealings or otherwise.
Articles published by us in 2006 and 2007 alleged that Mr Fahey showed political favouritism in relation to the administration and implementation of the Lost at Sea Scheme. We stated that two of his constituents had received €2m in fishing quotas which constituted 75 per cent of all compensation paid and that out of €2.8m paid out under the scheme, €2.1m was paid to two constituents of Mr Fahey. These statements were inaccurate. We acknowledge that the scheme did not provide financial support to the successful applicants and that the replacement gross tonnage could not be sold or otherwise traded as a financial asset, which has also been confirmed by the Ombudsman’s subsequent finding.
“An article in May 2010 reported upon a change to the pension arrangements of certain former Government Ministers, including Mr Fahey. We wish to make it clear that the change did not result from lobbying by Mr Fahey to the then Minister for Finance, Brian Cowen, after his predecessor, Charlie McCreevey, declined to assist him. Mr Fahey was only one of a number of former ministers affected by the change,” the apology concluded.