View all newsletters
Sign up for our free email newsletters

Fighting for quality news media in the digital age.

  1. Media Law
February 6, 2015

Former head of Northern Ireland Civil Service wins damages from Belfast News Letter

By PA Media Lawyer

A former head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service has accepted damages and an apology from the Belfast News Letter.

Sir Gerry Loughran sued the newspaper's publisher over its coverage of a Public Account Committee report that criticised a company set up to provide a cutting-edge building for new biotech firms.

Loughran, also a former Permanent Secretary at the Department of Economic Development, had sued the newspaper's publisher, Century Newspapers, over stories which appeared in the News Letter on 23 May 2012, under the headlines "Call in PSNI over suspected fraud, say MLAs" and "Retired top civil servants involved", and on its website, his solicitor, Paul Tweed told the High Court in Belfast.

The offending allegations were also the subject of a tweet by the journalist concerned, said Tweed.

He went on: "Without prejudice to the defendant's right to publish matters of high public interest, the defendant nonetheless accepts that some readers may have inferred wrongly from the subject articles that Sir Gerry Loughran, a former Head of the Civil Service, was somehow implicated in the 'suspected fraud' referred to in the articles.

"It was never the defendant's intention to suggest any involvement by Sir Gerry in the 'suspected fraud' and it unreservedly accepts that Sir Gerry has not been guilty of any wrongdoing or impropriety, and acknowledges his impeccable reputation and many years of public service."

Tweed said the publisher was happy to make this clear, and apologised to Sir Gerry for any distress these references to him caused, and had also agreed to pay appropriate damages and costs.

Content from our partners
Pugpig named best media technology partner of 2024 by AOP
Cannes Lions: The world's best creativity all in one place
L'Equipe signs content syndication deal with The Content Exchange

After the hearing, Tweed said: "My client is very satisfied with what has been a total vindication of his reputation following this comprehensive apology before the High Court this morning, regarding a reference to him that should not have been published in the first place."

Topics in this article :

Email to point out mistakes, provide story tips or send in a letter for publication on our "Letters Page" blog

Select and enter your email address Weekly insight into the big strategic issues affecting the future of the news industry. Essential reading for media leaders every Thursday. Your morning brew of news about the world of news from Press Gazette and elsewhere in the media. Sent at around 10am UK time. Our weekly does of strategic insight about the future of news media aimed at US readers. A fortnightly update from the front-line of news and advertising. Aimed at marketers and those involved in the advertising industry.
  • Business owner/co-owner
  • CEO
  • COO
  • CFO
  • CTO
  • Chairperson
  • Non-Exec Director
  • Other C-Suite
  • Managing Director
  • President/Partner
  • Senior Executive/SVP or Corporate VP or equivalent
  • Director or equivalent
  • Group or Senior Manager
  • Head of Department/Function
  • Manager
  • Non-manager
  • Retired
  • Other
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
Thank you

Thanks for subscribing.

Websites in our network