For­mer coun­cil­lor Barry Nevin awarded €20,000 in the High Court

MEN AWARDED €20,000 EACH OVER DEFAM­A­TORY PRESS RE­LEASE

Bray People - - FRONT PAGE - BY MYLES BUCHANAN

A SIT­TING coun­cil­lor said it was ‘a good day for lo­cal democ­racy’ as he and a for­mer coun­cil­lor were each awarded €20,000 in dam­ages in a defama­tion case taken against Wick­low County Coun­cil and the for­mer County Man­ager, Ed­die Sheehy.

Cllr Tommy Cullen and for­mer Coun­cil­lor Barry Nevin had claimed an April 2013 press re­lease by Mr Sheehy de­famed them as it ac­cused them of mak­ing un­founded, mis­con­ceived, in­ac­cu­rate and se­ri­ous al­le­ga­tions about the coun­cil’s pur­chase of a site at the Three Trouts in Grey­stones, which was bought by a Com­pul­sory Pur­chase Or­der.

Mr Nevin, who lost his seat in 2014, and Cllr Cullen claimed that the press re­lease por­trayed them as un­fit to be pub­lic repre- sen­ta­tives. They lost their case in Wick­low Cir­cuit Court in 2013 but ap­pealed the de­ci­sion to the High Court where Ms Jus­tice Marie Baker ruled in their favour last week.

‘We were fully vin­di­cated and cer­tainly it was a good day for lo­cal democ­racy and pub­lic rep­re­sen­ta­tives,’ said Cllr Cullen.

‘My­self and Barry put a lot of time, ef­fort and our own per­sonal money at our own cost into this case. There was noth­ing in it for us, every­thing we raised was in the pub­lic in­ter­est.’

Cllr Cullen added that the whole le­gal process had taken its toll on his and Mr Nevin’s fam­i­lies.

‘It was a big re­lief. This mat­ter dates back all the way to 2011 and it was 20 gru­elling days in the High Court, but we have been fully vin­di­cated.

‘We were do­ing our jobs as pub­lic rep­re­sen­ta­tives and we were com­pli­mented in court for that.

‘It is a re­lief for both of our fam­i­lies, es­pe­cially when it is such a com­pre­hen­sive judge­ment. There can be no ar­gu­ment with the judge­ment but it was an ex­haust­ing trial. This was never about the money. As elected pub­lic rep­re­sen­ta­tives we were only do­ing our jobs,’ said Cllr Cullen.

‘We took a risk but it was in the pub­lic in­ter­est. We have now estab­lished our rights as pub­lic rep­re­sen­ta­tives to ask ques­tions, get an­swers and de­fend the pub­lic in­ter­ests.’

Mr Nevin also wel­comed the High Court de­ci­sion.

‘I am very thank­ful for the sup­port of all my fam­ily and friends. Both Tommy and my­self have been com­pletely vin­di­cated and I will let the High Court judge­ment speak for it­self,’ he said.s

Ms Jus­tice Baker feltf the press re­lease hadh de­famed both Cllr Cullen and Mr Nevin and por­trayed them as ‘un­wor­thy to pub­lic of­fice.’o

Sub­mis­sions on le­gal costs will take place in Oc­to­ber.

“We have been fully vin­di­cated...we were do­ing our jobs as pub­lic rep­re­sen­ta­tives”

Barry Nevin.

Cllr Tommy Cullen.

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