Belfast Telegraph

INM 'staying focused' as court appoints inspectors

By Shane Phelan

Independent News & Media (INM) has said it intends to continue its business as normal in the aftermath of yesterday's decision by the High Court in Dublin to approve the appointment of inspectors to the company.

INM said its board would consider the 76-page ruling by Mr Justice Peter Kelly and the action the company might take in the interests of the business and its stakeholders.

INM's publications include newspapers the Belfast Telegraph, Irish Independent and the Herald.

"The board and the company's management intend to remain focused on the business and ensuring that the group's operations continue, so far as possible, to be conducted as normal," the firm said.

The statement made no mention of the possibility of an appeal of the ruling.

An appeal is thought to be unlikely.

Lawyers for INM and the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement will return to the court tomorrow, when there will be a hearing on the issue of costs.

Mr Justice Kelly said that if no stay is sought at that hearing, orders allowing the appointment of inspectors will take effect.

The Director of Corporate Enforcement is seeking its costs from the case, which included a three-day hearing of the matter in July, during which INM strongly opposed the corporate watchdog's application.

INM had warned the appointment of inspectors would be disproportionate and would have a seriously damaging impact on the company, its shareholders and employees.

Its chairman Murdoch MacLennan said in a court filing the board believed the company's very survival would be jeopardised if there was a general erosion of confidence, including a loss of advertiser and supplier confidence in the INM group, such as would follow from the appointment of inspectors.

In his ruling Mr Justice Kelly said he was not convinced on a consideration of the evidence that the consequences were as serious as are suggested by the company.

He said: "The appointment of inspectors is a serious matter and such a sledgehammer should not be used to crack a nut.

"What has been disclosed in the evidence before me is no nut.

"The appointment of inspectors to ascertain the truth of what has allegedly gone on in the company is well justified and is not disproportionate."

Belfast Telegraph

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