Man branded as Guerin killer in £1 million libel claim

A man branded as the killer of journalist Veronica Guerin in an Irish newspaper has launched a legal battle for £1 million compensation.

Crime reporter Guerin, 36, who exposed drugs barons and the underworld of crime, was gunned down on June 26 1996 as she sat in her car at traffic lights.

Now Patrick "Dutchy" Holland has hired controversial lawyer Giovanni di Stefano as his legal expert to sue Independent News and Media Ltd and journalist Gerry O'Carroll for libel damages.

Holland claims a story in the Evening Herald on April12 this year, which claimed he had murdered Ms Guerin, was defamatory, malicious, and false, and is seeking damages from the publishers.

Although published in Dubin, the Evening Herald is available in England and Wales, claims Holland, and this enables him to seek damages through the UK courts.

Convicted drug dealer John Gilligan and Geraldine Gilligan have also hired Giovanni di Stefano to act for them in a libel action against Radio Telefis Eireann and Veronica's brother Jimmy Guerin. They too are seeking £1 million damages, over drug allegations they say were made in a Prime Time television programme broadcast on June 12 this year.

The programme alleged that Mr Gilligan was involved in distributing and importing controlled drugs, while he was still a serving prisoner in Ireland, and that Ms Giligan was helping him, and laundering the proceeds of crime. These allegations, they say, are malicious, false and defamatory.

They are suing Mr Gilligan, saying he claimed both were involved with illicit drugs, and that Ms Gilligan was laundering money from the drugs trade.

Guerin died when she was shot with six shots from a .357 magnum as she waited in her car at traffic lights on the outskirts of Dublin. Two men on a motorcycle, both wearing full face helmets, pulled up alongside her and the pillion passenger shot her.

Giovanni di Stefano is a lawyer who is linked to some of the world's most notorious individuals.

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