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Largest libel litigation in Northern Ireland’s history successfully settled

26 May 2010

After more than 3 years of strongly defended litigation, terms of settlement have been agreed resolving 40 libel actions brought by Lord Stevens, Sir Hugh Orde and 18 other members of the Stevens 3 Inquiry Team in the Northern Ireland Courts.  Slater and Gordon Lawyers acted for the team in conjunction with Johnsons, a Northern Ireland firm of solicitors. The cases were described in the Northern Ireland media as the largest libel litigation in the country’s history.

The cases were pursued against two Northern Irish papers – Sunday World and Sunday Life – over articles published in November 2006 which alleged that the team had failed to act on information which allowed a loyalist paramilitary to continue with his murderous activities.

In a statement read in open Court on Monday 24 May 2010, the newspapers accepted “without reservation that the allegations we published were untrue and that no members of the Stevens 3 Inquiry Team acted unprofessionally or in dereliction of their duty as police officers. The publishers of Sunday Life and Sunday World acknowledge that Lord Stevens and all members of the Stevens 3 Inquiry Team were dedicated police officers of the highest reputation and integrity.”

The statement went on to “apologise to Lord Stevens and to each member of his team for the damage caused to their reputation and for the upset and embarrassment that may have been caused to them. To demonstrate the sincerity of this apology we have also agreed to pay the Stevens 3 Inquiry Team members damages together with their legal costs.”