Former Coolmore Stud employee looses book appeal case

Former Coolmore Stud employee looses book appeal case

A former Coolmore Stud employee has lost his appeal over being refused injunctions preventing its lawyers writing to booksellers and distributors alleging his book about working there contained defamatory material, writes Ann O'Loughlin.

William Jones, author of The Dark Horse Inside Coolmore and with an address at Dominic's Court, Cashel, Co Tipperary, worked at the stud between 2006 and 2015 and later self-published his book via his company Gold Rush Publications.

He denies defamation and sought various injunctions, pending a full hearing of his case against Coolmore, restraining its lawyers writing to book distributors and retailers alleging the book contained defamatory material and seeking it not be sold.

Coolmore's solicitors Arthur Cox had written to the Amazon website and bookshops referring to potential proceedings for defamation and noting the book included allegations of bullying and details of the deaths of two horses Mountjeu and Jude. The book was later withdrawn by a number of distributors.

Coolmore argued, under a December 2014 agreement compromising Mr Jones' Labour Relations Commission claim over his employment at the stud, both sides agreed not to make any derogatory comments about each other at any time in the future and he had also undertook not to disclose any records relating to animals or clients of the stud.

In June 2016, the High Court ruled Mr Jones, who represented himself, had made out no arguable case entitling him to the injunctions.

He appealed but the Court of Appeal yesterday (thuras) dismissed his appeal. It will address cost issues next week.

The President of the Court of Appeal, Mr Justice Sean Ryan said Coolmore did not sue Mr Jones for libel. Mr Jones maintains his book is not defamatory and, if he is sued, he will defend it "line by line on the basis that it is true", the judge said.

That was "the very thing" Coolmore sought to avoid happening and Mr Jones may welcome an opportunity to vindicate his position and justify his allegations, he said.

Mr Jones was, in his action, challenging Coolmore's entitlement to circumvent him and avoid a libel action and yet succeed in restricting circulation of his book and inhibiting references to material in it.

The fact Mr Jones claimed he could prove the truth of everything in his book did not give rise to a cause of action against Coolmore over having its solicitors write their letters, he said.

The "decisive question" was whether Coolmore was entitled to write to distributors or booksellers warning or threatening them with legal action if they proceeded to deal with Mr Jones' book.

The judge said Section 27 of the Defamation Act allows for a defence of "innocent publication" and Coolmore sought to exploit that provision by putting potential distributors and retailers on notice of its claims the book is defamatory.

Mr Jones was mistaken in his view a person alleging defamation was not entitled to move directly against distributors and sellers without making an author a defendant, he said.

Coolmore's solicitors' letters notifying the relevant parties of its concerns meant those parties could either abandon further distribution or sale or go ahead with publication, thus jeopardising any defence of innocent publication.

That was a "legitimate legal manoeuvre" and the fact it had not been established by a court the publication was defamatory was "irrelevant", the judge held.

He also dismissed as "groundless" claims by Mr Jones of bias on the part of the High Court or that his right to constitutional freedom of expression was breached by Coolmore's actions.

More in this Section

NI mother prosecuted for buying abortion pills for teen daughter is formally acquittedNI mother prosecuted for buying abortion pills for teen daughter is formally acquitted

Trolley watch figure rises above 550Trolley watch figure rises above 550

Boy, 11, whose service dog won award now fighting cancerBoy, 11, whose service dog won award now fighting cancer

Report reveals rise in number of young children suffering from anorexiaReport reveals rise in number of young children suffering from anorexia


We take a trip back through the Wolves singer’s most major fashion moments.As Selena Gomez surprises fans with new music, these are some of her best style moments

There’s a “Not In Kansas, anymore” at the very beginning of Lankum’s new take on boozy standard, ‘The Wild Rover’. The 10 minute-plus recording starts with a caterwauling note that hangs jaggedly in the air.Lankum shining a light on the dark side of Irish culture

There is something irrepressibly cheerful about pumpkins. They come on the scene just when you need them and don’t linger on too much after. Their bright, orange glow warming up garden patches and grocery store isles on grey Autumn days.Want to make use of your leftover pumpkin? The Currabinny Cooks have the best recipes

Phil Coulter is one of Ireland’s most successful songwriters and producers, selling millions of records and going on to enjoy international solo success with his Tranquility albums.My life in music: Phil Coulter publishes his memoir

More From The Irish Examiner