Belfast Telegraph

Monday 28 July 2014

Loyalist Winston Irvine's nephew sues Sunday World over parade photograph

The photo showed a group of men monitoring a republican parade from the balcony of Clifton Street Orange Hall in north Belfast.

Copyright Presseye / Declan Roughan
The photo showed a group of men monitoring a republican parade from the balcony of Clifton Street Orange Hall in north Belfast. Copyright Presseye / Declan Roughan

The nephew of an alleged UVF commander was left isolated in work after being wrongly named as standing beside him in a newspaper photograph, the High Court has heard.

Glenn Irvine is suing the Sunday World over the picture of a group of men monitoring a republican parade from a north Belfast Orange Hall.

Even though he is not in the photo, Mr Irvine claims he has been libelled by the caption.

If successful, his defamation action could have huge implications for future press reporting.

The 27-year-old insurance salesman from the city's Woodvale area is a nephew of leading loyalist Winston 'Winkie' Irvine.

He issued proceedings after the Sunday World published a picture in October last year of men on the balcony of Clifton Street Orange Hall, allegedly recording a demonstration which resulted in serious rioting.

The photo was linked to an article referring to a "Muppet Show" and naming two of those in it, including Winston Irvine, as being veteran UVF men.

In the caption a third man circled in the picture was identified as Glen - rather than Glenn - Irvine.

Giving evidence today the plaintiff said he was left distressed and close to quitting his job following publication.

He said a colleague from the Lenadoon area later made comments about a Glen Irvine from Woodvale being in the UVF.

His partner was also asked by a friend what he was doing on the balcony recording a republican parade, the court heard.

Mr Irvine insisted he has no connection with any paramilitary organisations. 

"I'm opposed to anything like that, I don't get involved in anything along those lines because I work in a majority Catholic workforce," he said.

Despite living in the same block of flats as his uncle he told the hearing the pair would only see each other once a week at most.

Under cross-examination by Michael Humphreys QC, for the Sunday World, the plaintiff said he knew about Winston Irvine's alleged role as a UVF commander.

He also confirmed that he had learned that the man circled in the picture and captioned as Glen Irvine was really a friend of his uncle's called Graham Hollywood.

Mr Humphreys challenged him about his claim that the work colleague had referred to the Woodvale area, pointing out that no mention was made in a letter from his solicitors.

Mr Irvine denied suggestions that he added the geographical reference to his evidence in an attempt to make a connection with him.

"He (the colleague) certainly didn't find out anything from this article to indicate where you live or indeed that there was a man called Glenn Irvine from Woodvale, and he didn't get from this article that a man called Glen Irvine was in the UVF," Mr Humphreys contended.

"All this article says is a man called Glen Irvine was on the balcony at Clifton Street with two men who are in the UVF monitoring a republican parade."

The court heard an online directory inquiries search revealed eight other Glenn Irvines in the Belfast area.

Mr Justice Gillen will decide whether liability has been established. If it has a jury will then be brought in to decide the level of any damages.

During the hearing he indicated that if the defendant ultimately wins the case it could mean newspapers would be under "the most enormous burden" in publishing photos.

The hearing continues.

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