Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 21 October 2014

Developer Paddy McKillen receives Spectator apology

Paddy McKillen

Belfast-born businessman Paddy McKillen has received an apology in the High Court in Dublin from the Spectator magazine over an article it published last March related to Claridge's Hotel in London.

The article incorrectly stated Mr McKillen was a "front man" for Qatari investors in the luxury hotel, the court heard.

Jim O'Callaghan SC, for Mr McKillen, said the matter arose out of a defamation action over the article but he was pleased to tell the court the matter had been settled and solicitor for the magazine, Simon McAleese, would read out an apology. The apology stated that on March 29 last, in the print and online editions, the Spectator (1828) Ltd, publishers of the magazine, ran an article in the "Taki" column entitled: "It might be time to avoid Claridge's".

The article referred to an "Irish front man" for the Qataris which could have been taken as a reference to Mr McKillen.

"The defendant's column had incorrectly assumed Mr McKillen's investment in Claridge's was being financed by Qatari funding.

"It accepts this was incorrect and that it was therefore wrong to describe Mr McKillen as a front man for the Qataris," said the statement.

The magazine withdrew any corresponding criticism of Mr McKillen and "apologises to him for its error", it added.

President of the High Court, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns, agreed to strike out the matter with no further order.

Mr McKillen was not in court but afterwards his solicitor, Paul Tweed of Johnsons Solicitors in Belfast, said his client had been "totally vindicated by this comprehensive and categoric retraction and apology".

Mr Tweed added his client "will not hesitate to take appropriate legal action to protect his business from any future attempts to undermine his reputation".

Mr McKillen and his business rivals David and Frederick Barclay have fought a three-year battle in boardrooms and courtrooms for control of Coroin – a company that owns three prestigious London hotels including Claridge's.

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