O'Brien claims articles published March 15, 2015, about a Govt-commissioned but unpublished PwC report into Ireland's top 22 borrowers were defamatory of him
Former editor of SBP Ian Kehoe and former business editor Tom Lyons have repeatedly said they published the material as a matter of public interest
Michael McDowell SC is representing the Sunday Business Post.
Mr Justice Bernard Barton is presiding.
McDowell will address the jury first.
[Issue paper will be given to jury in next few moments]
You've heard from 3 witnesses: Denis O'Brien, Tom Lyons and Ian Kehoe.
Who is telling the truth?
There have been accusations of malice against these two men [Lyons and Kehoe] without any basis.
Who claimed he had correspondence to prove the points he was making and failed to produce it?
What’s that about?
He wants to project his power against these two gentlemen [Lyons and Kehoe] by exposing them as 'malicious'
If you come to the conclusion that that’s a false, wild claim - I will ask you find accordingly and throw this out lock, stock and barrel.
Says either DOB's claims about the meanings of the articles are either "incorrect or correct".
"If incorrect, this case fails"
And that the only way he can vindicate his character is to seek damages
He didn't have to make that case.
He chose to make that case and he chose to issue these proceedings
McD tells jury 1) DOB claims the description of him being in a 'gang of 22' suggests 'criminality' and 2) that the articles suggest DOB was somehow responsible for the crash
McD tells jury if was the case DOB was defamed then the other 21 borrowers in the articles would be taking similar action but they're not.
McD: They've [other borrowers] not brought cases. If they didn’t defame all of them, how is it the case that they defamed DOB?
He says Lyons's evidence that RTE asked him not to mention Denis O'Brien in a radio interview - about the March 15, 2015 SBP reports - "corroborates this account".
Says two things arise from that - do you think for one moment that this was all part of a drama…that they said 'well, we’ll have a go/crack at him anyway…maliciously and see how far we’d go with that'
Do you think for one minute that the editor and deputy editor said: 'let's defame Denis O'Brien, let's say things we know are untrue and let him sue us'.
I have to ask you, when you consider your verdict: Who was trying to tell you the truth? Who was irresponsible? Who was willing to damage others and impute false motivation towards others in the evidence they gave?
Acting in the best interest of their newspaper and their readers?
McD: I said to DOB ‘I take it you’re not suggesting that Tom Lyons had a list of 22 people and decided that he’d just insert your name into that list?'...
The response I got from DOB was 'I wouldn't put it past him'
McD: He set out that he [Lyons] acted improperly and unprofessionally for not putting to him the exact figure that appeared in the Sindo article of DOB's indebtnesss to Anglo...
McD tells jury that Denis O'Brien told the jury the figures in the SBP were wrong but he refused to tell the jury how wrong (by a cent or €100k)
McD: Mr O'Brien, in order to say he was the odd man out and there was no basis whatsoever to include him in these articles said ‘I’m not a developer’. He kept repeating it like a mantra
McD: I'm asking you [the jury] was he honest? Would a businessman like him put a property on the market for €220m and then take it off the market in those circumstances? There's a ring of falsity to that.
McD says that the language in the letter from Meagher solicitors to SBP suggested that DOB was "looking for a fight".
The other man: I'm not.
The man making the claim said to man next to him: Was he looking at me?
That man agrees
First man: Are you calling my brother a liar?
[Reading from a letter] McD says: His solicitor says ‘we have to hit them with a plenary sunmons’..that’s what he says and that where this case begins..was it sensible?
He says DOB is claiming that SBP published "something they knew was false" and "consciously decided to damage Mr O’Brien"...
McD said DOB initially said he didn't know if he was one of the 22 top borrowers.
But then when this image emerged, DOB's legal team "changed their tune completely" and said he was number 10 on the list even though it's blacked out
They said 'you should have put that in the article'
McD tells jury the SBP wrote that DOB had paid off all his loans and was one of the best customers of Bank of Ireland and AIB
MCD: But that's not good enough for DOB either...because they said SBP "invented the black and white version" of the report..
McD said it effectively suggested TL had committed purgatory (by saying he only had a B&W copy of report) and that this was done on DOB's instructions
And again the answer of the two journalists is 'we gave him best credit rating…we said paid his debts, interest and was one of best customers of the BOI and AIB', etc..
It was suggested SBP had colour version all the time and were coming into court to mislead you [jury] on this issue
But then it emerged he got no such apology
McD: You know that. And who else knew it at that time? The recipient of that email: James Morrissey.
McD: Mr Morroissey gave him [TL] a 'no comment' and Mr Morrissey did this on behalf of DOB. And I asked DOB and he said 'yes, Mr Morrissey would have told me about it'
MCD says the email to Nick Webb was "scandalous and vicious" and was "only capable of being written by someone who is malicious"
MCD: How vicious to do that to a young upcoming journalist, by a man with 21% of share in the company.
[to complaint about a journalist NOT asking specific question that he never intended on answering]
DOB comes in here and thinks he’s just going to "wing it with loose and untrue evidence"
MCD claims point of saying there was a letter of apology (which never existed) was to "provide a scmokecreen to get away from a lie to you..to say he was unpreturbed by Sindo article"....
There's just the truth, that he borrowed money, that his loans were functioning and that he was paying a high rate of interest
On contrary it says he was able to do all these things...and not just simply stagger from recession a wounded man but be one of banks' best customers
This is an artificial case and an exercise in 'looking for a fight, spoiling for a fight..a case with no merit whatsoever.
Were they truthful/honest? Yes
Were they conscious of fact they could be sued? Yes
Were they careful on that account? Yes they were
Did they avoid libelling DOB? Yes they did
Look at them, look at them: they didn't.
MCD says DOB is not pursuing the SBP out of money "but because he wants to put down people who are decent, honourable and truthful....journalists who keep our democracy going by telling the truth"
MCD: Don’t fall for this phoney effort to persuade you that this man was defamed..
I’m asking you to throw this out unceremoniously.