Sunday World apologises and pays damages to doctor

The Sunday World apologised to a Northern Ireland family doctor and agreed to pay him damages after publishing a story that falsely linked him to a neighbourhood dispute involving a former glamour girl.

Dr Laurence Haslam sued the newspaper over a story in which the ex-model alleged that he had become involved in a row she was having with one of his relatives.

The story was published in August 2008, under the headline “Not what the doctor ordered”.

The settlement of the case was announced in a statement read out in the High Court in Belfast on March 22.

The statement said the newspaper, which alleged that Haslam had acted dishonestly and unprofessionally, acknowledged that the story was inaccurate and defamatory.

The BBC reported that the statement said that before publishing the story, the newspaper made two attempts to contact Haslam, and had also relied on documents from Carrickfergus Mental Health Trust that had proven to be incorrect.

The newspaper withdrew the allegations, confirmed that Haslam was a medical professional of the highest moral standing, and apologised for publishing claims that should never have been made.

The Ulster TV website quoted Sunday World northern editor Jim McDowell as having stressed after the hearing that any inaccuracies in the story were based on the Trust’s documents.

“It wasn’t the case of shoddy or irresponsible journalism,” he said.

“The Sunday World pursued a story on the basis of good faith in the Trust’s documents and the reporter concerned made every effort to contact Dr Haslam and his calls were not returned.”

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