Belfast Telegraph

Judge settles libel action with Sunday World

A judge has settled his libel action over a newspaper report on the sentence he handed down to a barrister for a motoring offence.

Brian Archer sued the Sunday World, claiming it implied he showed favouritism in dealing with the case.

But after he had given evidence before a jury at the High Court in Belfast a confidential resolution of the lawsuit was confirmed today.

Mr Archer, who has acted as a deputy district judge for more than six years, declared himself "fully vindicated" by the outcome.

Defamation proceedings centred on a sentence given to public prosecution barrister Simon Reid.

In 2011 he was stopped for using a mobile phone while driving for a fourth time.

He was already on nine penalty points when his case came before Deputy District Judge Archer sitting in Dungannon Magistrates Court.

The judge decided not to impose further points which would have then triggered a six-month driving ban.

Instead, a fine and two-week period of disqualification was imposed.

In evidence Mr Archer insisted he had exercised discretionary powers to hand down a sentence that was correct in law and within guidelines.

The lawyer was unknown to him at the time, he told the court.

He questioned why the newspaper failed to mention either the two-week ban or that he dealt with three other motoring cases that day in the same way.

During cross-examination counsel for the Sunday World contended that it had been an unusually light sentence for a repeat offender.

Mr Archer stressed, however, that the nine penalty points remain in place.

He was due to continue his evidence on the second day of the trial.

However, it was announced that a settlement had been reached following out-of-court discussions.

Mr Archer said later: "I'm very happy with the outcome of the case. I feel I have been fully vindicated and I was right to bring proceedings."

He added: "This was obviously a very stressful time leading up to this case, but I thought I had to do this, given the contents of the article, and I'm glad I can now put it behind me and continue with my work."

But the Sunday World's northern editor, Jim McDowell, responded: "Mr Archer agreed to settle this case on amicable terms after appearing in the witness box on Monday.

"The case was due to run for four days. While Mr Archer may think otherwise, I do not believe that he is entitled to consider himself 'fully vindicated'."

Belfast Telegraph Digital


From Belfast Telegraph