Denis O’Brien: Berlusconi assertion defamatory

Businessman Denis O’Brien alleges an assertion that his use of his media and business interests means he has “become Ireland’s Berlusconi” is among several defamatory references to him in a dossier commissioned by an unidentified client from consultancy firm Red Flag.
Denis O’Brien: Berlusconi assertion defamatory

Yesterday, Mr O’Brien went to the the High Court seeking an order compelling Red Flag to identify that client now. The dossier includes documents referring to “Ireland’s Berlusconi”, alleging Mr O’Brien used “philanthropy as a PR tool” and engaged in “blatant PR exercises in attempt to throw off the negative shroud of the Moriarty Tribunal”, his counsel, Michael Cush SC, told the court.

Those and other statements and documents amounted to an “extraordinary” body of evidence of conspiracy by both lawful and unlawful means, and defamation, counsel argued.

Red Flag opposes identification of the client and denies any involvement in defamation or conspiracy or that it published the dossier.

It also claimed a “lack of candour” by Mr O’Brien about how he learned of the firm’s alleged dissemination of the dossier of material which he believes is part of a campaign “masterminded” by the unidentified client to damage him.

Mr O’Brien denies lack of candour but accepts his sworn statement in October may have incorrectly conveyed that he learned from an investigation of Red Flag’s alleged involvement in dissemination of the dossier, said Mr Cush.

In the same statement, Mr O’Brien said that, “in addition, and during the course of this investigation” he anonymously received an envelope containing a memory stick bearing the dossier.

Mr O’Brien says a code to decrypt the dossier was written inside the envelope and he learned from the dossier of Red Flag’s alleged involvement in the alleged campaign.

If Mr O’Brien’s first sworn statement led Red Flag to believe it was from the investigation, rather than the dossier itself, that he got his belief about Red Flag’s alleged dissemination of the dossier, that was incorrect and Mr O’Brien apologises for that, Mr Cush said.

Michael Collins SC, for Red Flag, said this matter was “not as simple” as Mr Cush outlined and he would address the claim of lack of candour in continuing arguments before Mr Justice Colm MacEochaidh on Friday.

Mr Cush sought an order, via early discovery or other type of order, requiring Red Flag disclose the identity of its client for that dossier.

Red Flag has confirmed it compiled that dossier and authored some material in it and had a client for it.

Beginning his opposing arguments, Mr Collins said it was “genuinely difficult” to know exactly what form of order was being sought because a whole series of matters in the sworn statement Mr O’Brien relied on last October to seek to seize equipment referred to a series of matters many of which are not being pursued in the defamation claims.

The defamation claims relate, in part, to references in the dossier concerning Mr O’Brien’s dealings with IBRC and the Sitserv matter.

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