A key shareholder in the 'Sunday Tribune' last night called for the 'Mail on Sunday' to be expelled from the country's main newspaper trade group.
This followed the decision by the British-owned 'Mail' to publish a four-page wraparound last Sunday, the front page of which mimicked the masthead and layout of a 'Tribune' front page.
Independent News and Media (INM) said the title, which is owned by Associated Newspapers, should be removed from the National Newspapers of Ireland (NNI) for passing itself off as the 'Tribune', which was not published after it went into receivership.
A spokesman for INM said: "In light of the 'Irish Mail on Sunday's' action last week, when it deliberately and blatantly passed itself off as the 'Sunday Tribune' newspaper, we are seeking the expulsion of the 'Mail on Sunday' from the trade group, the National Newspapers of Ireland."
The spokesman added that no final decision had been made on whether or not it would take legal action against Associated Newspapers, but that INM -- which also publishes the Belfast Telegraph and Irish Independent -- was "considering its options" and would communicate formally with Associated News's head office in due course. However, the receiver for the 'Tribune', Jim Luby, confirmed that his legal advisers had already been in contact with the 'Mail On Sunday'.
"The 'Sunday Tribune' had a business name for the last 30 years or so, which is valuable in and of itself," he said.
Messages left with the "Irish Mail on Sunday" by the Irish Independent were not returned yesterday. NNI chief executive Frank Cullen also refused to comment. Legal experts believe an action could be possible even if the 'Tribune' layout was not trademarked because "passing off" as a similar publication is also covered under the law.
The National Consumer Agency in Ireland (NCAI) has already said it is "actively pursuing" a complaint from the National Union of Journalists and is considering taking enforcement action against the company for breach of the Consumer Protection Act. The 'Sunday Tribune' has also lodged a complaint to the NCAI.
The 'Mail on Sunday' published what it described as a "special edition designed for readers of the 'Sunday Tribune'". 'Tribune' editor Noirin Hegarty said she was "appalled".
Mr Luby confirmed that while the sale process was at an early stage, he was hopeful of finding a buyer and was still looking to sell the newspaper in its entirety as a going concern.
"As receiver, I have had the full support of the 'Sunday Tribune' staff and their morale has been excellent, given the circumstances they face," he said.