Judgment for defamation of character, in favour of Limerick businesswoman and former model Kay Mulcaire against the owners of the Irish Mail on Sunday, was set aside in the Circuit Civil Court yesterday.
Ms Mulcaire, of Kilcoole Stables, Rathkeale, claims the newspaper defamed her in April 2010 when an article was published commenting on her having won the Best Dressed prize at the Punchestown races earlier that month.
Daughter-in-law of horse trainer Michael Hourigan, Ms Mulcaire operates K Boutique in Adare and Isobel Boutique in Rathkeale and she claims she was defamed in the article that appeared under the headline: “Judging womens’ looks like animals’ is demeaning – and it is why we get so few of the top jobs”.
Ms Mulcaire claims the article stated she had “allowed herself become arm candy to be ogled in attention-seeking clothes and prove herself in an entirely superficial way” and referred to Best Dressed competitions at race tracks as “the human Crufts”.
Judge Jacqueline Linnane said solicitors for Associated Newspapers (Ireland) Limited had received nine letters seeking entry of a defence and faced three court applications seeking judgment in default of defence.
Barrister Tom Murphy told the court the county registrar had granted judgment against the newspaper on December 18 with assessment of damages at the trial date, but had put a stay on the order until January 14.
He said a defence had been prepared by Associated Newspapers but their solicitors had overlooked entering it because of ongoing settlement talks. As a result, there was no appearance in court by a solicitor or counsel for the newspaper on December 18.
Counsel for Ms Mulcaire,Michelle Liddy said she accepted the non-appearance on December 18 had been due to inadvertence on the part of the newspaper’s solicitors but she could not understand why they would think she did not require entry of a defence.
Setting aside the judgement, Judge Linnane awarded Ms Mulcaire her legal costs for two court appearances and said there should be an early trial in the matter.
Above: Kay Mulcaire.