Yesterday at the High Court, Independent Newspapers unreservedly apologised to Gemma O’Doherty for any stress and hardship caused to her. The case was settled with undisclosed damages to the journalist.
Ms O’Doherty had brought defamation proceedings against Independent Newspapers (Ireland) Ltd, and Stephen Rae — the editor in chief of the Irish Independent, Sunday Independent, and Herald newspapers — as a result of her treatment, and subsequent departure from the newspaper, following an investigation she carried out into penalty points.
High Court president Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns was informed by counsel for Ms O’Doherty, Martin Hayden, the action had been resolved and could be struck out.
On behalf of the defendants a statement was read to the court by their counsel Ray Ryan.
It stated: “Independent Newspapers wish to acknowledge the exceptional work of multi-award winning investigative journalist Gemma O’Doherty for the Irish Independent during the course of a lengthy career.
“Independent Newspapers accept that Gemma O’Doherty has acted at all times in a professional and diligent manner and in the best interests of Independent Newspapers. Independent Newspapers unreservedly apologise to Ms O’Doherty for the stress and hardship caused to her and her husband as a result of its actions. Independent Newspapers have agreed to pay Ms O’Doherty undisclosed damages and to indemnify her in relation to her legal costs.”
All other details of the settlement are confidential.
The journalist brought proceedings after she was made redundant from the newspaper in 2013.
Shortly before Christmas, Ms O’Doherty settled her unfair dismissal case against her former employers.
Speaking outside court, Ms O’Doherty, from Shankill in Dublin, said the apology by Independent Newspapers was another comprehensive vindication of her reputation as an investigative reporter.
“On a separate and general note, journalists have an obligation to hold power to account, be it in An Garda Siochána, Dáil Éireann, the health service and other institutions of the State.
“We must be allowed to do our work without fear or favour, defending the public interest and the rights of citizens, particularly the victims of injustice and the marginalised,” she said.
Ms O’Doherty said she intends to continue her career in investigative journalism.
Her solicitor Paul Tweed said the formal apology from Independent Newspapers read before the court not only “brings Ms O’Doherty’s defamation proceedings to a conclusion, but also completes the vindication of her professional reputation.”