Judge reserves decision on claim by hire company that men staged accident

Lawyers for a number of men - who a car hire company believes were involved in a set-up traffic accident - has urged the High Court to reject the "outrageous allegation" which he said was based on no evidence and done to besmirch their reputations.

Richard Lyons SC, for four men who sought compensation for soft tissue injuries arising out of an accident involving a Hertz hire car in Lifford , Co Donegal, on June 28, 2011, said his clients had been met with a "besmirching campaign" during the hearing.

The claim that the accident was set up was never pleaded in the court papers, he said. But in the hearing before the High Court, his clients had been met with an "outrageous allegation without any to support it other than the fact the were members of various organisations".

The court heard those organisations were the "Joseph Plunkett 1916 Society" and the "Charlie Darcy 1916 Society". Both are involved in commemorating dead IRA men, including those who died during the troubles.

The leader of the Plunkett Society, Martin Lafferty, from Clady in Strabane, Co Tyrone, who was the driver of the car hit by the hire car, strongly denied he had been involved in an arranged accident.

He said he knew the driver of the hire car, Gareth Feeney, with addresses in Carlton Drive, Strabane, Co Tyrone and Park Crescent, Harrow, Middlesex, England, but only to see him from coming into a Strabane nightclub where he said he worked for 12 years.

Mr Lafferty is one of seven, all from Strabane, who sued Ryans Investments NI Ltd, trading as Hertz. They also sued Mr Feeney, who denied liability. Hertz denied liability on the basis the claim is fraudulent.

There were five men in Mr Feeney’s hired Ford Fiesta and four in the Peugeot 406 driven by Mr Lafferty who was on he way to check his cattle around midnight on the night of the accident at Lifford Roundabout. Mr Lafferty said Mr Feeney failed to stop coming onto the roundabout and hit his car side on.

Seven who sued were awarded sums of less than €10,000 in Buncrana Circuit Court in 2015 and Hertz appealed to the High Court.

Following a three day hearing, and following submissions on behalf of the parties Mr Justice Charles Meenan said he would like to give his decision before the end of the law term this month, but expected it was more likely to be at the beginning of the new term in October.

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