Irish News appeals £25,000 defamation payout out over restaurant review

A leading Northern Ireland daily newspaper tonight instructed its lawyers to lodge an appeal after it was ordered to pay out £25,000 after a jury found a food critic's review of an Italian restaurant was defamatory.

"The outcome of this case raises profound questions involving the freedom of the press," a spokesman for the Belfast-published Irish News said.

"We firmly believe that newspapers must have the right to publish fair and honestly written reviews, contributed by experts in their particular field and engaging in either praise or criticism when it is justified."

Belfast food writer and restaurant critic Caroline Workman criticised the quality of the food and drink and staff at Goodfellas Restaurant & Pizzeria at Kennedy Way, west Belfast in a review in 2000.

Owner Ciaran Convery claimed the article was a hatched job and sued.

A jury at Belfast High Court agreed after his lawyers claimed the review was defamatory, damaging and hurtful and said the newspaper had failed to retract or apologise.

Mr Convery, who was also awarded costs, was jubilant after his win.

"I think justice has been done. Goodfellas is a successful business and today's verdict has proved to me, my staff and my customers that we did the right thing by launching the libel action."

The Irish News spokesman said: "We are convinced that a public interest issue of the utmost importance is at stake here, and we have therefore instructed our lawyers to enter an immediate appeal."


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