Irish media rivals back law challenge

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Irish state broadcaster RTE and The Irish Times are backing Independent News and Media in its challenge to Irish libel laws, which it alleges are in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The case follows a €381,000 (£265,000) award to the Irish MEP Proinsias De Rossa in his libel action against the Sunday Independent. While not appealing the High Court award on grounds of defamation, the newspaper argued that it was not only excessive but that a climate of fear was being created among media organisations in the Republic of Ireland because of the size of the award.

Lawyers for the Independent said an award of this magnitude had a “chilling effect” on freedom of expression.

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