Call for review of Ireland's defamation laws after legal threat from Denis O'Brien

Call for review of Ireland's defamation laws after legal threat from Denis O'Brien

A media lawyer says the latest legal dispute surrounding Denis O'Brien is a reminder that satire websites do not have any special legal protection.

There have been calls to overhaul Ireland's defamation laws after the businessman threatened legal action against the Waterford Whispers website over a news article.

Media lawyer Sarah Kieran says publishers need to be aware that presenting a piece as satire doesn't mean they're immune from legal claims:"We don’t have a legal defensive satire. There is one in Australia and New Zealand, but it doesn’t exist here.

"So everything that a person says they have to be able to prove is true if they have published something that is complained of as defamatory.

"It’s a very difficult position to be in in this country because there’s a fine line with what one person would consider to be defamatory and what another would take on the chin."

An opposition TD says the latest legal threats to the Irish media mean it's time to review Ireland's libel laws.

Roisin Shortall of the Social Democrats says the action is needed after a legal threat by Denis O'Brien against the Waterford Whispers news website.

The satirical website has removed an article which the businessman's lawyers said was malicious and defamatory.

Deputy Shortall says it may be time to review the laws under which the media operates:"I think there is a serious imbalance in our defamation laws at the moment that need to be addressed urgently.

Call for review of Ireland's defamation laws after legal threat from Denis O'Brien

"We can’t have a situation where outlets involved in satire or in reporting of any kind can be threatened.

"There is a very important principle that we must uphold in relation to freedom of speech, but also there are issues which arise out of control of the media."


More in this Section

Warning issued to dog owners as weather set to heat upWarning issued to dog owners as weather set to heat up

Transport authority to install hand sanitiser across fleets for passengersTransport authority to install hand sanitiser across fleets for passengers

O'Sullivan has yet to decide who to back in Green Party leadership contestO'Sullivan has yet to decide who to back in Green Party leadership contest

Gardaí very concerned for welfare man, 75 missing in DublinGardaí very concerned for welfare man, 75 missing in Dublin


Lifestyle

Simple storage solutions for the DIY rookie.8 simple steps to putting up a shelf

Yes, many of us have succumbed to the ‘Covid stone’ and may be trying to lose it but we all need a treat from time to time. Our recipes here incorporate tasty fruits like blueberries, apricots and almonds while Derval’s lime, chocolate and oat biscuits are a delicious and yet healthy sweet treat option.Food and Fun: Take some time out for treats

“Do you know what penguins smell like?” Landscape painter Nicholas Romeril asks, and then laughs at his own question.Nicholas Romeril: Antarctic ice-olation was the perfect training for lockdown

No. Such a small word, but a powerful one.Normal People recap: Bad sex and a sad funeral

More From The Irish Examiner