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Byrne settles court action against employer Virgin Media

Broadcaster Paul Byrne has resolved his High Court action against Virgin Media television over its decision to bring internal disciplinary proceedings against him.

Mr Byrne, who has worked as broadcaster’s southern correspondent for many years, had sued Virgin Media, seeking various injunctions over what he claimed was a flawed disciplinary process.

The claims were denied.

The matter was mentioned before Mr Justice Mark Sanfey today, when the journalist’s counsel Eoin Clifford SC said that following a mediation of matters the dispute had been settled in its entirety.

Counsel then asked the court to strike out the case.

No further details of the settlement, which is understood to be confidential, were given in open court.

Mr Justice Sanfey welcomed the resolution of the case.

Mr Byrne was not present in court today.

The court previously heard that Mr Byrne was suspended from his role following a live report he made on the afternoon of 9 February last concerning the death of a young boy in Co Waterford.

Mr Byrne, the court heard, had stated in a report that one line of inquiry being considered by the Gardaí as part of the investigation into the child’s death was that the boy had allegedly been drowned and placed into a car.

The claim was broadcast after Mr Byrne checked it with at least two credible sources and after two other media outlets had published the same information.

While he had believed the information to be credible, the information later turned out not to be true.

Shortly afterwards he claims his employer suspended him for allegedly breaching the broadcaster’s News Guidelines and Production Handbook, because he had failed to speak to his line manager about the matter in advance of the broadcast.

He claimed the disciplinary process could have resulted in his dismissal for alleged gross misconduct.

He denied any wrongdoing, and claimed that the process was flawed, punitive, disproportionate and should be set aside.

He also claimed that the process lacked credibility, and breached his contractual rights.

As a result he commenced proceedings before the High Court last April seeking an injunction restraining Virgin Media Ireland Ltd and Virgin Media Television Limited from continuing the disciplinary process against him and that his suspension be lifted.

In correspondence the defendants rejected Mr Byrne’s claims against both them and the disciplinary process itself.

They said that given Virgin Media’s role as a public broadcaster the alleged breach was deemed “serious in nature” and informed him that “steps needed to be taken to avoid a repeat”.

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