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Irish restaurateur fails in bid to take review challenge to High Court

11 April 2008 by

The Irish restaurateur whose £25,000 libel award for a bad review was quashed last month has failed in his bid to take the case to the House of Lords.

Ciaran Convery, owner of Goodfellas Restaurant & Pizzeria in Belfast, last year successfully sued the Irish News for a critical review that questioned both the quality of the food and drink and the staff at his restaurant.

He claimed the article was a "hatchet job" and sued.

A jury at Belfast High Court agreed with his lawyers' claims that the review was defamatory, damaging and hurtful.

However, last month, the Northern Ireland court of appeal overturned the decision on grounds of justification and fair comment.

Convery appealed but three High Court judges refused his application to take the case to the Lords earlier this week.

Jeremy Clarke-Williams, joint head of defamation at law firm Russell Jones & Walker, said the case sets no precedent and suing over an adverse review has always been taking a chance against the odds.

"Provided a review is honest opinion, then even if the views expressed are extreme, the defence of fair comment is almost always likely to succeed," he said.

"While there has been plenty of publicity about this case, nothing has changed and restaurateurs would still be well advised to avoid taking revenge on poisonous critics through the libel courts unless they have persuasive evidence of malice."

Court throws out libel claim against restaurant critic >>

Restaurant news round-up >>

Irish News ordered to pay £25,000 to Italian restaurant >>

Irish News food critic ordered to pay £25k - For more hospitality stories, see what the weekend papers say >>

By Kerstin Kühn

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