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Defamation action withdrawn from jury as judge finds court report fair and accurate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A High Court judge has withdrawn from a jury a defamation action taken against a newspaper, after saying the article at the centre of the case was fair and accurate and enjoyed absolute legal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of the jury, gave her decision following an application last Friday by Rossa Fanning SC, for Iconic, to have the case withdrawn from the jury on the basis that the article enjoyed absolute privilege as a fair and accurate report of court proceedings.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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How to get the Warm Home Discount and why you should act fast

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Could YOU save £140 on energy bills with the Warm Home Discount? Some suppliers have opened applications… but you should act quickly

  • Thousands could save £140 on their energy bills through a Government scheme 
  • We reveal whether you could be eligible for the Warm Home Discount 
  • We also asked suppliers whether their applications are open yet  
  • Can you save money? Try our Compare the Market powered energy comparison 










Thousands of households are eligible to receive £140 off their energy bill this winter through the Warm Home Discount.

Low income homes and those receiving their pension could see a significant chunk taken off their bills if they sign up to the scheme in the next few weeks.

This will be particularly important as the new energy price cap level is set to kick in at the beginning of October, rising bills for millions of customers.

Customers are encouraged to apply as soon as their supplier opens applications as there is a limited number of discounts to go around. 

Thousands are eligible to receive £140 off their energy bill through the Warm Home Discount

Thousands are eligible to receive £140 off their energy bill through the Warm Home Discount

Several providers have said they will offer the discounts on a first come, first served basis meaning eligible households should act fast.  

This is Money has detailed exactly what the Warm Home Discount is, how you can apply and which energy suppliers have started taking applications for the scheme.

What is the scheme?

Eligible households could get £140 off their electricity bill for winter 2021 to 2022 under the Warm Home Discount Scheme which officially opens on 18 October 2021.

The money is not paid directly to customers but instead is a one-off discount on a home’s electricity bill between October and March.

Customers may be able to get the discount on their gas bill instead if their supplier provides them with both gas and electricity and should contact their provider to find out.

Am I eligible?

You could be eligible if you get the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit – known as the ‘core group’.

If you are in this category, you will receive a letter between October and December 2021 telling you how to get the discount if you qualify.

Your electricity supplier will apply the discount to your bill by 31 March 2022.

If you have not received a letter and think you are eligible, contact your energy provider.  

Customers could also be eligible if they are on a low income and meet their energy supplier’s criteria for the scheme – known as the ‘broader group’.

If in this category, you will have to apply for the discount through your provider which will decide who is eligible or not.

As the number of discounts is limited, customers are encouraged to apply as early as possible to ensure they can take advantage of the scheme.

Households can still qualify for the discount if they use a pre-pay or pay-as-you-go electricity meter.

Suppliers will tell you how you will get the discount if you’re eligible, for example a voucher you can use to top up your meter.

A number of providers have already opened their applications for the discount scheme

A number of providers have already opened their applications for the discount scheme

Which energy suppliers have opened applications?

Ovo, which also looks after SSE, said it doesn’t yet have a firm scheme opening date but it’s likely to be later this month.

It added its advice to customers at the moment would be to register their interest online and it will be sure to contact them with more information as soon as the scheme is open. 

British Gas said its scheme for 2021/22 is now open and customers can apply. 

EDF added its scheme is also now open and customers can apply on their website. 

The supplier said it encourages customers to apply as soon as possible as the scheme will be closed once it hits its maximum number of applications. 

It added it anticipates applying the rebate to eligible customers accounts by the end of February 2022. 

Octopus Energy said it has already opened its applications now. 

There is no specific deadline for applications but it will be mentioning the scheme to customers who might be able to benefit from being in the broader group. 

Bulb said customers in the broader group for the Warm Home Discount can now register their interest on its website and it will email them when applications open later this month.

It added it processes applications on a first come, first served basis so it encourages members to register their interest as soon as they can. 

Eon is now taking applications and is encouraging customers to apply as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, Eon Next’s scheme will open in the coming weeks, but customers can register interest on the website now and it will contact them when it opens. 

Scottish Power added its applications had been open since 10 August.  

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Australia made ‘huge mistake’ in cancelling submarine deal – French envoy

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Australia has made a “huge” diplomatic error by ditching a multi-billion-euro order for French submarines in favour of an alternative deal with the United States and Britain, France’s envoy to Canberra said on Saturday.

Canberra announced on Thursday it would scrap its 2016 deal with France’s Naval Group to build a fleet of conventional submarines and instead build at least eight nuclear-powered ones with US and British technology after striking a trilateral security partnership.

The move caused fury in France, a NATO ally of the United States and Britain, prompting it to recall its ambassadors to Washington and Canberra, and also riled China, the major rising power in the Indo-Pacific region.

Malaysia said on Saturday that Canberra’s decision to build atomic-powered submarines could trigger a regional nuclear arms race, echoing concerns already raised by Beijing.

“It will provoke other powers to also act more aggressively in the region, especially in the South China Sea,” the Malaysian prime minister’s office said, without mentioning China.

Beijing’s foreign policy in the region has become increasingly assertive, particularly its maritime claims in the resource-rich South China Sea, some of which conflict with Malaysia’s own claims.

“This has been a huge mistake, a very, very bad handling of the partnership – because it wasn’t a contract, it was a partnership that was supposed to be based on trust, mutual understanding and sincerity,” France’s ambassador Jean-Pierre Thebault told reporters in Canberra before returning to Paris.

France has previously branded the cancellation of the deal – valued at €34 billion in 2016 and reckoned to be worth much more today – a stab in the back.

‘Vital ally’

Foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian later described the row as a “crisis” in France’s relations with the United States and Australia.

“There has been duplicity, contempt and lies – you can’t play that way in an alliance,” he told France 2 television.

US state department spokesperson Ned Price said France was a “vital ally” and that the United States would work in the coming days to resolve the differences.

Analysts say that even if US officials hope the crisis will blow over quickly, it could do lasting damage to Washington’s alliance with France and Europe and throws into doubt the united front that the Biden administration has been seeking to forge against China’s growing power.

Australia said it regretted the recall of the French ambassador and that it valued the relationship with France and would keep engaging with Paris on other issues.

“Australia understands France’s deep disappointment with our decision, which was taken in accordance with our clear and communicated national security interests,” a spokesperson for foreign affairs minister Marise Payne said on Saturday.

Mr Thebault said he was very sad to have to leave Australia but added there “needs to be some reassessment” of bilateral ties.

In separate comments made to SBS radio, Mr Thebault said of the ditched agreement: “It was not about selling salads or potatoes, it was a relationship of trust at the highest level covering questions of the highest level of secrecy and sensitivity.”

Low point

The row between Paris and Canberra marks the lowest point in their relations since 1995, when Australia protested France’s decision to resume nuclear testing in the South Pacific and recalled its ambassador for consultations.

Public opinion in France, where president Emmanuel Macron is expected to seek a second term in an election due next year, has also been very critical of Australia and the United States.

“You can understand for geopolitical reasons Australia getting closer to other anglophone countries like the United States and Britain,” said Louis Maman, a Parisian surgeon out for a stroll on Saturday on the Champs-Elysees.

“But there was a real contract and I think there was an alliance and a friendship between Australia and France. It’s spoiling a friendship,” he said. “I took it as a betrayal.” – Reuters

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Property battle of the Nobel Prize winners on Zoopla

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When you’re wandering the streets of Britain, often you’ll spot circular blue plaques on the exterior of properties highlighting the potential historic significance and links to a famous person of the past.  

While these may not increase the value of a property, it does add creditability in terms of authenticating its history.

This can be of huge interest among some buyers, particularly overseas buyers – although some wealthy buyers prefer to be more discrete and not run the risk of having tourists flock to their front door steps to take a photo. 

We have picked two impressive blue plaque properties with links to Nobel Prize winners and seven figure price tags in our latest property battle series and ask: If you had deep pockets, which one would you choose? 

We pick two impressive homes with blue plaques and seven figure asking prices, and ask which one would choose to live in?

We pick two impressive homes with blue plaques and seven figure asking prices, and ask which one would choose to live in?

Poll

Which would you choose

  • (Left) Birmingham house where Sir Austen Chamberlain was born 45 votes
  • (Right) London house where Rabindranath Tagore lived 21 votes

Guy Meacock, buying agency Prime Purchase, said: ‘Provenance is great when it comes to property and a blue plaque is a nice to have. 

‘But you can get some unwelcome attention, particularly on garden squares and some of the swishier streets in the capital where buyers would prefer to be discreet.

‘If you pin a badge on the side of the house saying John Lennon lived here, you could end up on the tourist trail with an altar by the front door and people staring through the window, wanting a tour. 

Many high-net-worth buyers don’t want to draw that sort of attention to themselves.’

The two blue plaque homes we have picked include one where where Sir Austen Chamberlain was born. It is in Birmingham and it has a price tag of £1.75million.

The second house is where Indian writer and poet Rabindranath Tagore lived and it is being sold for £2,699,500.

Five-bed detached house in Birmingham – £1.75m

This Grade II listed property dates back to 1855 and is currently on the market for £1,750,000 via estate agents Robert Powell

This Grade II listed property dates back to 1855 and is currently on the market for £1,750,000 via estate agents Robert Powell

The property is called Giles House and has a blue plaque on the front that reveals that Sir Austen Chamberlain was born there

The property is called Giles House and has a blue plaque on the front that reveals that Sir Austen Chamberlain was born there

This Grade II listed property dates back to 1855 and is today accessed via electronic gates.

It is called Giles House and a blue plaque on the front shows the name Sir Austen Chamberlain.

The former leader of the Conservative Party, Foreign Secretary, and older half brother of Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain was born at the house in 1863.

Sir Austen shared the Nobel Peace Prize for 1925 with the American Charles Dawes for his role in negotiating the Locarno Pact, aimed at preventing war between France and Germany.

The house has a large drawing room with a grand fireplace surround, arched windows and enough space for a grand piano

The house has a large drawing room with a grand fireplace surround, arched windows and enough space for a grand piano

At the rear of the property, there is a mature walled garden with a lawn area and a separate patio for outside dining

At the rear of the property, there is a mature walled garden with a lawn area and a separate patio for outside dining

The grand property has five bedrooms, including this one that boasts a fireplace and room for a separate sitting area

The grand property has five bedrooms, including this one that boasts a fireplace and room for a separate sitting area

The five-bedroom detached home is currently on the market for £1,750,000 via estate agents Robert Powell.

It has arched ground floor windows, an ornate corrugated iron entrance porch and a panelled front door.

Daniel Copley, of Zoopla, said: ‘This opulent family home has many sought after features including a mature walled garden with a terrace for entertaining family and friends, as well as five spacious bedrooms and plenty of natural light.

‘Five Ways train station, which has a journey time to Birmingham New Street of just four minutes, is also a short walk away.’

Three-bed terrace in London – £2.7m

This Grade II listed Victorian property in London is surrounded by Hampstead Heath and has an asking price of £2,699,500

This Grade II listed Victorian property in London is surrounded by Hampstead Heath and has an asking price of £2,699,500

The property has a blue plaque recording the residence of Rabindranath Tagore in 1912, one of the most influential figures in Indian literature and culture who won the Nobel Prize for Literature

The property has a blue plaque recording the residence of Rabindranath Tagore in 1912, one of the most influential figures in Indian literature and culture who won the Nobel Prize for Literature

This Grade II listed Victorian property in London is surrounded by Hampstead Heath and has an asking price of £2,699,500.

It dates back to around 1863 and while it has been refurbished, advice has been sought about extending at the rear of the house to create a conservatory and dining room.

The property has a blue plaque recording the residence of Rabindranath Tagore in 1912, one of the most influential figures in Indian literature and culture who won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Inside, there is a modern kitchen with black marble worktops, wooden flooring and a five-door Aga oven

Inside, there is a modern kitchen with black marble worktops, wooden flooring and a five-door Aga oven

The end of terrace property has three bedrooms and is is surrounded by Hampstead Heath in London

The end of terrace property has three bedrooms and is is surrounded by Hampstead Heath in London

Philip Green, of estate agents Goldschmidt & Howland, which is handling the sale, said: ‘This property’s brilliant location and spacious interior make it the perfect home for a growing family.

‘Hampstead is often nicknamed ‘Pramstead’ due to the many families living in the area and the wide range of excellent primary and secondary schools, both state and private, nearby. 

‘Aside from that, Hampstead Heath is a stone’s throw away, there are great transport connections and friendly Hampstead village has many boutique shops, cafes and restaurants.’

One of the bedrooms has two windows and a door with a staircase leading to a roof terrace with rooftop views

One of the bedrooms has two windows and a door with a staircase leading to a roof terrace with rooftop views

The centre of desirable Hampstead Village is nearby, with its array of shops, cafes, restaurants

The centre of desirable Hampstead Village is nearby, with its array of shops, cafes, restaurants

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