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NUJ urges university to withdraw legal threat against Limerick Leader

5 October 2015

The National Union of Journalists has called on the University of Limerick (UL) to withdraw legal proceedings against the Limerick Leader and to use the procedures of the Press Council of Ireland and the Press Ombudsman, if the institution feels wronged by the newspaper.

Séamus Dooley, Irish Secretary, said he viewed the decision to initiate legal proceedings against the newspaper and against the editor of the Limerick Leader as "heavy handed".

Over the weekend UL issued a statement expressing "regret at having to issue proceedings against the newspaper arising from a story published in the newspaper".

Séamus Dooley said:

"If the University of Limerick wants to seek redress for a perceived wrong, there is a non-legal mechanism which can be used without expending vast amounts of money on a High Court action. The Press Council of Ireland and the Press Ombudsman have played a significant role in resolving issues, through conciliation, and in issuing determinations where conciliation has not been successful.

"It is regrettable that a university with a widely-respected journalism faculty should effectively seek to derecognise the equally-respected dispute resolution mechanism established by the newspaper industry. This is a heavy-handed approach which is unnecessary and sets a dangerous precedent for an academic institution. Libel actions are costly and can threaten the very existence of newspapers.

"In the statement issued at the weekend the university claims the newspaper had failed to correct alleged errors in a story 'leaving the university with no option other than to initiate proceedings against the paper and its editor, Alan English'.

"This statement is simply wrong – the university has the option of making a complaint against the newspaper, albeit in a less threatening and intimidating manner than a High Court action. Both parties can make their case before the Press Council of Ireland in an effective and cost efficient manner and I would urge the University of Limerick to take this course of action."

Tags: , ireland, press council of ireland, press ombudsman, university of limerick, limerick leader