Defamation

David Speedie Awarded €85,000 at High Court Defamation Hearing


 

Former soccer player David Speedie has been awarded €85,000 compensation for claims he was suspected of criminal activity at a High Court defamation hearing.

Speedie brought his court action after the Sunday World claimed that the former Chelsea and Liverpool soccer player had links with criminal figures and that Gardai had reason to suspect he had been involved in criminal activity.

According to testimony given at the High Court defamation hearing, the newspaper published two articles in April 2011 which gave the impression Speedie was involved in smuggling or the transportation of drugs and had links to gangland crime.

During the five-day High Court defamation hearing, Speedie told the court the articles drew untrue conclusions from the fact that his fiancée is the sister of a woman married to Ritchie Thompson – the brother of convicted criminal “Fat” Freddie Thompson.

Speedie told the jury that the allegations damaged his reputation as a football pundit and led him fearing for his life and those close to him. He said he did not associate with criminals and drug dealers, or socialise with Ritchie Thompson.

The Sunday World, its editor Colm MacGinty and the reporter that wrote the story – Mick McCaffrey – denied that they had defamed Speedie and said that the content of the newspaper articles was true. McCaffrey said that his report was faithful to the notes he had taken on the day of the phone interview with Speedie.

At the end of the High Court defamation hearing, the jury was asked to consider eight questions regarding whether the content of the articles implied Gardai had reason to suspect that Speedie was engaged in criminal activity and associated with known criminals.

After two days of deliberations, the jury returned a verdict in favour of Speedie and awarded him €85,000 compensation. The jury also recommended that the Sunday World publish an apology. Mr Justice John Hedigan told the jury while they may recommend the publishing of an apology, he could not compel the Sunday Mirror to do that.