Catholic Herald facing £100k libel claim

Austen Ivereigh, former spokesman for the Archbishop of Westminster, is suing the Catholic Herald for libel damages of up to £100,000.

He is suing over a story published in July, headlined: ‘Cardinal’s top aide forced out after abortion revelation”.

Ivereigh claims the story, which also appeared on the Catholic Herald’s website, branded him a hypocrite who publicly condemned abortion and women who have one while privately he had abandoned two pregnant ex-girlfriends, and forced one to have an abortion.

The story claimed that this made him unsuitable for the role of public affairs advisor to Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor, he says.

IIvereigh claims the story carried a meaning by innuendo, that he should be excommunicated for breaching Roman Catholic Canon Law.

His reputation has been gravely damaged, and he has suffered embarrassment and distress because of the story, for which the Catholic Herald has refused to apologise, according to a High Court writ.

The story was unprofessional and a repetition of untrue and devastating allegations by a Catholic publication dear to his heart and faith, and he was not contacted before publication, he says.

The editor has refused to speak to him, and the paper has failed to respond to any of his phone calls, emails, or letter, he says.

Ivereigh is already suing the publishers of the Daily Mail over the story, which he says has “wreaked havoc and devastation” in his life.

He is deeply upset that the Catholic Herald is putting him through the trauma and stress of a second libel action, despite his offer to avoid legal proceedings if the Catholic Herald agreed to publish an apology if his action against the Mail is successful, he says.

He is claiming damages and aggravated damages for alleged libel, and an injunction banning repetition of the allegations at the centre of his claim.

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