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Defamation action withdrawn from jury as judge finds court report fair and accurate

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A High Court judge has withdrawn from a jury a defamation action taken against a newspaper, after saying the article at the centre of the case was fair and accurate and enjoyed absolute legal privilege.

Ms Justice Leonie Reynolds told the jury hearing the action by engineer Michael Reilly (62) against Iconic Newspapers, publishers of the Kilkenny People, she was satisfied, following the conclusion of evidence and based on the provisions of the Defamation Act 2009, the report in question was “nothing other than fair and accurate”.

That meant it was a matter of law for the court to decide, she said.

There was nothing left to go to the jury, she said.

She thanked the jury and discharged them.

Michael Reilly, of Ballycullen, Mullinahone, Co Tipperary, had sued over the “briefs” article published on the court page of the February 19th, 2016, edition of the Kilkenny People.

The engineer claimed he was defamed by being called a criminal in the report of a District Court hearing about another Michael Reilly who got a suspended jail sentence, six year driving ban and a fine for uninsured driving.

The paper denied the claims and said it was a fair and accurate report.

The court heard there had been a Traveller called Michael Reilly living in a caravan about two kilometres from the engineer’s home at the time.

That Michael Reilly was “evasive about addresses” when stopped by gardaí, the court heard.

Following a four day hearing before a jury sitting in the King’s Inn in Dublin, Ms Justice Reynolds said the suggestion that there was “some kind of investigative burden” on the Kilkenny People to carry out background checks about what had been said in a District Court and about what was on the court record was “simply untenable”.

The judge, earlier in the absence of the jury, gave her decision following an application last Friday by Rossa Fanning SC, for Iconic, to have the case withdrawn from the jury on the basis that the article enjoyed absolute privilege as a fair and accurate report of court proceedings.

Mr Justice Reynolds said Mr Reilly claimed he was the “only Michael Reilly” living in Ballycullen, Mullinahone, Co Tipperary and the newspaper report meant he was a criminal and this was entirely false and defamatory. The defendant denied the claims and further contended it was fair and accurate and therefore absolutely privileged, she said.

The undisputed facts in this case was that a Michael Reilly was stopped driving with no insurance and gave the address of Ballycullen. Summonses were served by a local garda on that Michael Reilly and he later appeared in court to answer them, she said.

The sergeant who prosecuted that Michael Reilly gave evidence to the jury that it was his usual practice to read out addresses in court although he could not be sure in this case as it was some time ago.

The Kilkenny People reporter Mary Cody gave evidence of relying on her contemporaneous notes and of preparing her draft article for publication. While she could not remember whether the sergeant gave evidence of the address, she had checked the minute book of the court which contained the address.

Ms Justice Reynolds referred to a previous judgment in which it was found that providing it was a fair and accurate report it was perfectly possible, reasonable and lawful for a court reporter to rely solely upon the written judgment of the court as the basis for the article that is written and for that to be fair and accurate. That was done in this case.

“The suggestion thereafter there is some kind of investigative burden on her (Ms Cody) or the paper to include additional details such as date of birth (of an accused) etc or carry out a background check is simply untenable”, she said.

“The reporting of what happened was 100 per cent accurate”, she said.

In all the circumstances, she was satisfied there was no evidence presented to a jury which reasonably charged could find it was anything other than fair and accurate.

It was unfortunate Mr Reilly did not take the opportunity offered by the newspaper to publish a clarification that he was not the Michael Reilly referred to in the article and have this matter resolved, she added.

Following an application from Tom Murphy BL, for Iconic, for costs the judge agreed to adjourn that issue to July 23rd.

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Homes near Elizabeth Line see asking prices double in a decade

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Asking prices for properties for sale near stations on London‘s new Elizabeth Line have more than doubled in a decade, new research has revealed.

Many areas near stations on the capital’s new high-speed line were previously less well connected to key commuter hubs, such as Liverpool Street or Paddington stations.

But they have seen a surge in property asking prices amid new interest from homebuyers and tenants due to the better transport links that the Elizabeth Line provides.

REVEALED: The asking price hotspots around the new Elizabeth Line stations

REVEALED: The asking price hotspots around the new Elizabeth Line stations

Elizabeth Line hotspots: This two-bed flat in London's Windmill lane is o.2 miles from Maryland station and is for sale for £395,000 via Filtons estate agents

Elizabeth Line hotspots: This two-bed flat in London’s Windmill lane is o.2 miles from Maryland station and is for sale for £395,000 via Filtons estate agents

The new figures from Rightmove revealed the extent to which asking prices have risen in local areas around Maryland, Abbey Wood and Stratford stations.

Maryland Station in Newham, which provides an additional option for those commuting near well-connected Stratford, has seen the biggest jump in asking prices.

They have more than doubled compared to ten years ago, rising 108 per cent from £233,480 to £486,235.

This compares to the London average increase over the past ten years of 55 per cent.

About half a mile from Abbey Wood station is this two-bed flat for sale for £235,000 via Your Move estate agents

About half a mile from Abbey Wood station is this two-bed flat for sale for £235,000 via Your Move estate agents

Rightmove has identified the asking price hotspots around the new Elizabeth Line stations

Rightmove has identified the asking price hotspots around the new Elizabeth Line stations

Meanwhile, Rightmove revealed that total buyer demand has risen the most in western areas, while prices and competition has risen most in eastern areas.

Twyford, at the end of the western section of the line and the next stop along from Reading, has seen the biggest jump in the number of buyers contracting estate agents.

Numbers have more than tripled compared to 10 years ago, up 245 per cent.

Those looking to buy near Abbey Wood station, at the end of the South East section of the line, face the stiffest competition from other buyers.

Competition in that area has soared more than nine times and is up 869 per cent.

Rightmove has identified buyer demand hotspots around the new Elizabeth Line stations

Rightmove has identified buyer demand hotspots around the new Elizabeth Line stations

The increase in buyer competition compared to ten years ago around the new Elizabeth Line has been revealed

The increase in buyer competition compared to ten years ago around the new Elizabeth Line has been revealed

Near Custom House station: This two-bed house is for rent for £1,700 a month via Outlook lettings agents

Near Custom House station: This two-bed house is for rent for £1,700 a month via Outlook lettings agents

The rental hotspots along the new Elizabeth Line station have been revealed

The rental hotspots along the new Elizabeth Line station have been revealed

It is a similar story along the Elizabeth line for tenants as many look to balance their commute into London with where they can afford to rent.

Average rents in London have reached a new record of £2,195 a month, up 14 per cent compared to this time last year.

Southall has seen the biggest increase in the number of tenants contacting letting agents compared to ten years ago, more than quadrupling, up 372 per cent.

However, asking rents near Southall station are lower than nearby Hanwell or Ealing.

Asking rents have increased the most in western stations Slough, up 44 per cent, and Burnham, up 43 per cent, while those looking to rent near Custom House station face the most competition from other tenants.

Slough is among the asking rent hotspots along the new Elizabeth Line stations, with the average asking rent up 44 per cent during the past ten years

Slough is among the asking rent hotspots along the new Elizabeth Line stations, with the average asking rent up 44 per cent during the past ten years

One of the new stations built for the Elizabeth Line - Custom House - has seen competition increase 3270 per cent compared to ten years ago

One of the new stations built for the Elizabeth Line – Custom House – has seen competition increase 3270 per cent compared to ten years ago

Custom House, one of the new stations built for the Elizabeth Line and benefitting from significantly lower travel times into Central London, has seen competition increase by a staggering 33 times, up 3270 per cent compared to ten years ago.

Tim Bannister, of Rightmove, said: ‘As the Elizabeth Line opens, it does so with a backdrop of record rents in London, a rising cost of living and a shortage of available homes.

‘Areas further out from central London that have lower asking prices or rents, but are now more easily commutable will be attractive to new buyers and tenants in search of somewhere affordable to live near the capital.

‘Not only this, but new working from home patterns since the pandemic started two years ago will have many people weighing up whether they are prepared to commute from further away if they need to do so less often.’

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National Maternity Hospital decision is a welcome sign of the Government’s backbone

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The Government’s decision to proceed with the building of the new National Maternity Hospital is a welcome sign that the Taoiseach and his Ministers are willing to face up to the Opposition, the social media mob and assorted objectors on an issue of major national importance.

One of the weaknesses of the Coalition since it took office in June 2020 has been a tendency to run scared in the face of contrived outrage, usually fomented by a combination of Opposition politicians and vested interests, often mistakenly portrayed as representing public opinion.

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URW rolls out Westfield brand to three new destinations

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Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield (URW) unveiled plans to rebrand three flagship centres, rolling out the Westfield brand to Parquesur in Madrid, Taby Centrum in Stockholm, and Galeria Mokotow in Warsaw this fall. The rebranding continues the expansion of the Westfield brand in Europe as the company drives new revenues through media advertising and brand experiences, turning its huge footfall of 550 million visits across its European assets into a qualified audience, while also leveraging the Westfield brand’s significant value to retailers, who see over 20%2 higher sales at URW’s centres even when compared to other A-category malls.

 

The flagship destinations share a number of characteristics in addition to being among the most important retail centres in their respective markets: they are set in excellent locations with unrivalled transport options, have distinctive architectural and design features and a best-in-class approach in terms of customer experience, community engagement, and sustainability practices. To celebrate the launch of the Westfield brand at these assets, each destination will host festive consumer events which will be announced later this year.

 

Caroline Puechoultres, Chief Customer Officer of URW, said: “The rebranding of these centres continues our strategy to expand Westfield to Flagship European destinations in the wealthiest cities and catchment areas. The significant opportunity afforded to both retailers and brands by this increasingly digitally linked network of destinations is unparalleled – through Westfield our partners can reach tens of millions of European consumers, driving new possibilities in advertising, brand marketing and retail.”

 

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