Paddy Jackson and Father

Paddy Jackson’s father wins libel action over false Twitter claims

SOURCE – BBC News

The father of former Ireland and Ulster rugby player Paddy Jackson has won a libel action over false claims he offered to pay off the woman at the centre of his son’s rape trial.

Peter Jackson sued two women from the Republic of Ireland when the unfounded allegations appeared on Twitter.

The posts came after his son and his son’s former teammate Stuart Olding were cleared of raping the same woman.

A judgement was made in one of the defamation cases on Monday.

No defence was filed in the case against one of the women, Dublin-based Danielle Collins, at the High Court in Belfast.

Any damages are expected to be decided once the second case is dealt with.

Both cases relate to Twitter activity in April 2018 – a month after the two rugby players were cleared of rape in Belfast.

Paddy JacksonImage copyright PACEMAKER
Image caption Paddy Jackson and his teammate Stuart Olding were unanimously acquitted of rape in March 2018

In a statement following the first libel action, Mr Jackson insisted he had to face up to those behind the fictitious accusations.

He pointed to a major review of how rape trials are handled in Northern Ireland, carried out by retired judge Sir John Gillen, as highlighting “the scourge of social media on society”.

“I hope that my actions in helping to bring perpetrators of fabricated claims to justice will inspire and open the doors for others who have suffered at the hands of similar defamatory posts,” he said.

He added that he strongly believed it had been “appropriate and just” to bring court proceedings.

Mr Jackson’s lawyer, Kevin Winters, said the case came after a “damaging allegation was made that he tried to pay off the complainant in a failed criminal prosecution against his son”.

Belfast High Court
Image caption Defamation proceedings were brought at the High Court in Belfast

“I commend Peter Jackson’s bravery in stepping forward to protect his good name. His case was taken against a difficult background of heavy social media activity.”

“The judicial system is still playing catch-up in this area, but I think the case marks an important step in addressing the current imbalance.”

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