Heil to that, Max! The Irish Times guide to defamation

I haven’t visited the Kate Fitzgerald saga for a while but seeing as The Irish Times’ editor, Kevin O’Sullivan, is due to meet her parents tomorrow over the censoring of her final words, I decided that this observation might be quite timely.

What is the bigger crime for a newspaper to commit – to falsely accuse somebody of being a Nazi or to annoy some PR consultants? I had always assumed that it was the former but The Irish Times has shown me the error of my ways in its recent handling of the Kate Fitzgerald affair. Let’s compare the cases….

Max Mosley

Personality

Terry Prone
Former Formula 1 boss, road safety campaigner, recipient of Légion d’honneur

Who?

Former TV Presenter, PR Consultant, government adviser
The Irish Times implied that Mosley was a Nazi sympathiser in an article which included the phrase “Heil to that, Max”. (September 11, 2010)

The Claim

That one article read in conjunction with another might suggest that her company may not have been fully understanding to a depressed employee.
False

Veracity

Unclear
47 days

Speed of apology

7 days
Upon receipt of a solicitors letter

Circumstances

Upon a complaint from Prone’s company

Still available
(see above)

Web publication

Original article blacked out of Irish Times website

It seems pretty clear from the above evidence that the Irish Times obviously regards falsely alleging that someone is a Nazi sympathiser is far less serious than upsetting Terry Prone. I wonder whether Kevin O’Sullivan will illuminate the thinking behind this point at his meeting with the Fitzgeralds, whose dead daughter’s reputation was sacrificed to placate Prone and her company, the Communications Clinic.

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3 Responses to Heil to that, Max! The Irish Times guide to defamation

  1. Lara says:

    Yay! Wonder how the parents got on.

    Some great blogs on this. Here’s another.

    The Mathemagician’s Tears: Why I Withdrew Submissions from the Irish Times

    http://www.joyofwriting.net/

  2. Pingback: Kate: In Memoriam « Slouching Towards Bedlam

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