On 12 March, 2013 the Belfast Telegraph published an article entitled "Probe was carried out amid tumult that resulted in four dismissals". The article referred to a fraud investigation which had been carried out into Northern Ireland Water which was said to have culminated in the sacking of four directors, including Mr Declan Gormley, who was named in the article.
We unreservedly accept that there was no connection between the fraud investigation and the sacking of Mr Gormley. We accept that the article should not have referred to the dismissal of Mr Gormley without making this clear, particularly since, in December 2012 a High Court jury had awarded Mr Gormley £80,000 damages for libel arising out of a similar allegation.
Furthermore in February 2013 the Department of Regional Development had apologised to Mr Gormley in the High Court for his sacking, publicly acknowledging that he had not been guilty of any wrongdoing, misconduct or incompetence in the discharge of his duties as a non-executive director of Northern Ireland Water and that his removal from office did not reflect adversely in any respect on his character, competence or integrity.
In the circumstances the Belfast Telegraph unreservedly apologises to Mr Gormley for any distress and embarrassment caused by the publication of this article, and acknowledges that any implication of impropriety, lack of integrity or incompetence on his part is entirely without foundation. In recognition thereof we have agreed to pay him compensation and costs.