A Belfast businessman has accepted a five-figure libel settlement from the Sunday World newspaper over a story it published almost three years ago.
Property developer Peter Curistan accepted the damages from the Independent News and Media-owned tabloid over a story published in March 2006 which his lawyer said had falsely accused him of financial malpractice.
Press Gazette understands that the Sunday World offered £51,000 in damages and has also agreed to pay Curistan’s £150,000 legal bill. The case had been due to be heard in front a jury in March next year.
Solicitors acting for Sunday Newspapers Limited, the Sunday World parent company, confirmed in a statement yesterday that the libel action had been settled.
Mills Selig solicitors said Curistan had ‘readily’accepted the paper’s ‘modest five-figure’offer of damages, but refused to confirm the exact amount paid.
‘Bearing in mind that our lodgement did not come with any admission of liability or even an apology, we did not expect Curistan to accept this offer and deny himself a hearing in court,’the paper’s lawyers said.
Sunday World northern editor Jim McDowell added: ‘Peter Curistan had the opportunity to make his case before a judge and jury. He didn’t take it.
‘He accepted a modest five-figure sum. He demanded an apology. He is not getting one.”
In a statement issued by his lawyers, Carson McDowell, Curistan said the ‘serious’allegations printed about him in the Sunday World had been ‘highly inaccurate and defamatory”.
‘It has taken almost three years for the paper to acknowledge that they had published a scurrilous libel of me that was bound to cause my family and me very considerable upset as well as untold damage to my business interests,’he said.
‘My motivation in taking this action was not for financial recompense, but to challenge and expose the entirely irresponsible journalism of the paper in printing such an article, and to restore my good name.”