John Waters ordered to pay full legal costs over lost Kitty Holland defamation case – The Irish Times

Author and columnist John Waters, who was held to have defamed award-winning Irish Times journalist Kitty Holland arising out of the untimely death of Savita Halappanavar, has been ordered to pay Holland’s full legal costs estimated to top €150,000

The legal bill, following a five-day trial involving senior counsel Andrew Walker, barrister Shane English and Ciaron Leavy of Lavelle Partners Solicitors, comes after Judge John O’Connor in the Circuit Civil Court ordered him to pay Holland €35,000 damages for defamation of character.

At an adjourned hearing specifically set to deal with the legal costs issue, Mr Walker told the court his client was entitled to her costs following the court’s finding in her favour.

Mr Walker said Waters had indicated before the hearing that he intended calling 11 witnesses to give evidence on his behalf but had not called any witnesses and based his case on a 100-page letter of defence and his own evidence.

He said Waters had sent Holland’s solicitors a 100-page letter which had made it clear he had no intention of settling the case and was going to run it.

Judge O’Connor, following an application on behalf of Waters not to make any order for costs, said he saw no reason to depart from the normal rule that “costs follow the event,” adding that in his opinion the Irish Times Social Affairs Correspondent was absolutely entitled to a full set of costs.

Judge O’Connor held earlier that the defamation in the case had been a serious attack on Ms Holland’s professional integrity as a journalist and had caused her considerable hurt.

“Fortunately, this attack on her reputation as a journalist did not result in consequences for her career,” Judge O’Connor said. “She is held in very high esteem as a journalist by her peers and this is confirmed today by this court.”

He said the defamation by Waters had been careless and reckless of Ms Holland’s reputation in order to make a political point.

Judge O’Connor said he was attempting to be proportionate in making an award of €35,000, exactly half of the award he could have made against Waters. He noted Waters had arranged for his speech to be deleted from the Renua website, though there had been no clarification or apology.

Holland had sued former colleague Waters for up to the €75,000 Circuit Court limit for defamation of character in which, she alleged, he had seriously injured her standing as a journalist.

Holland (53) of Ranelagh, Dublin, broke the story of the tragic death of Savita Halappanavar at the age of 34 in the University Hospital Galway 12 years ago.

She alleged that Waters had, without specifically naming her, made a claim in an address to a political party conference that she had lied in her report, making her out to be a dishonest reporter, inaccurate and unfit to be a journalist.

Waters, of Sandycove, Dublin, described in court as a strident pro-lifer, denied in a full defence to Holland’s claim that he had defamed her or called her a liar, and stating he had nothing to do with the political party publishing his speech online.

Holland had told the court that having received a tip-off about Ms Halappanavar’s untimely death she had thoroughly investigated the matter and her story had been published by the Irish Times under the headline “Woman ‘denied a termination’ dies in hospital” after having been vetted by editors and lawyers for three days.

She had reported that Ms Halappanavar had been refused a termination because of a foetal heartbeat being still present and because she had been told “this is a Catholic country.”

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