Court halts sale of book by Ryan’s girlfriend

The sale of a book written by the late Gerry Ryan’s girlfriend has been dramatically stopped by the courts.

When We Dance, the autobiography of Melanie Verwoerd, was due to go on sale in bookshops yesterday morning. However, lawyers for Gerry Ryan’s friend Dave Kavanagh went to a specially convened, out-of-hours sitting of the High Court to seek a ban on the sale of the book.

Mr Kavanagh guided Clannad and The Chieftains to international musical success and was an old friend of the broadcaster.

The High Court granted an interim order restraining the sale and distribution of the book by Ryan’s former partner.

The injunction was granted by Mr Justice Paul Gilligan to Mr Kavanagh, a music promoter of Hatch St, Dublin, arising from certain material contained in the book written by Ms Verwoerd. Mr Kavanagh alleges he has been defamed in the book.

The order applies until Oct 24, when the court will decide whether to continue it after hearing both sides’ views concerning the alleged defamatory material.

The order, sought by Brian O’Moore, for Mr Kavanagh, restrains Liberties Media Ltd, trading as Liberties Press, from selling, publishing, or distributing the book, due to go on sale this week.

Section 33 also restrains publication of details of the material about which Mr Kavanagh has complained.

Ms Verwoerd, a former South African ambassador to Ireland, was in court yesterday for the brief hearing and said afterwards it would not be appropriate to comment at this stage.

Lawyers for Mr Kavanagh had applied to Mr Justice Gilligan after normal court hours on Tuesday evening for the interim order but the judge returned the matter to yesterday after saying the other side should be put on notice of the application.

Mr Kavanagh was not in court yesterday but Ms Verwoerd arrived with her lawyer, Declan Doyle.

The publishers were represented by Liz Walsh, who said the her party only became aw-are of the application for an injunction stopping publication at 5pm on Tuesday, which did not afford them enough time to prepare for the case.

Mr Kavanagh’s lawyers had said a letter was sent to the publishers on Oct 4 about the matter but, Ms Walsh said, that letter was not received as it was sent to the former address of the firm.

The injunction was initially sought against the publishers and Ms Verwoerd, but when the order was made, it was made solely against the publishers. It binds against publishing, distributing or selling the book until Oct 24.

Although the publishers said they did not receive sufficient notice of the injunction application, the judge noted the book was due to go on sale first thing yesterday. While he recognised there was a “very limited window of time”, the publishers had known of the matter since 5pm yesterday evening, he said.

Ms Walsh said the book had been in Eason’s bookshop since Tuesday and some of the books may have already gone on sale.

Mr Justice Gilligan poin-ted out to the media that, as the matter came under the Defamation Act, all journalists must take “extra care” not to make any reference whatsoever to the statements in the book to which Mr Kavanagh was objecting.

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