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O’Doherty applies for judge’s recusal in harassment case

Publisher Gemma O’Doherty has asked a High Court judge to recuse himself from hearing her case after she said she had not been aware that he had previously been a barrister for former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan.

Judge Conor Dignam said he was surprised to hear that she had not been aware of this and he said he will now consider the application, giving a written decision on this.

The case taken against Ms O’Doherty is over her alleged harassment of Edel Campbell, from Kingscourt in Co Cavan, the mother of a young man who died by suicide in 2021.

An injunction was granted, which remains in place pending the outcome of this case, restraining Ms O’Doherty from harassing or intimidating Ms Campbell and from disclosing any confidential information about her or her family.

The injunction was granted following the publication of a photograph of Ms Campbell’s son Diego Gilsenan in a newspaper which she edits called The Irish Light.

During an earlier hearing of this case, following her arrest on Wednesday over her alleged breach of the injunction, Ms O’Doherty said this had happened as part of a targeted campaign against her, funded by third parties who were out to silence her.

GoFundMe page

Today, she referred to a GoFundMe page which she said had been set up to fund a senior counsel for Ms Campbell in this case.

She claimed this went against a law known as ‘champerty and maintenance’ which prevents the third-party funding of legal actions.

She said the injunction against her must therefore fall.

She also complained that some of her supporters had not been able to access a packed court 18 today, with many of them having to wait in an adjoining room, after all the seats in court were taken.

She said justice must be done in public.

Judge Dignam said there were physical limitations on any space and that no other court room was available.

Committal application

On the issue of recusing himself from the case, he said this could not be determined today and that this was an issue he would have to determine first before making any further orders in the case.

He said the only issue before him today was a committal application.

He said the case raised significant issues about the boundaries of harassment and the free press.

He said these issues needed to be addressed by both sides before they could be determined.

Senior Counsel for Ms Campbell, David Kennedy SC, said he probably should put in a replying affidavit dealing with the “fundraising side of things” so that the judge had all the facts.

Ms O’Doherty, who is representing herself in these proceedings, said there needed to be a full and proper investigation into that.

The case was put back for mention again on Friday 7 June when the judge said he hoped the matter would be more ready for hearing.

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