High Court defamation suit

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John Redmond
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High Court defamation suit

Post by John Redmond » Sun Jul 24, 2016 1:06 pm

According to an article in The Sunday Times, an ex-chairman of the Irish Chess Union has issued a High Court defamation suit against the ICU, its current chairman and one other member. http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/ex-ch ... -9f8wn7cd5 There's been a lot of bad blood in Irish chess over the last couple of years, but this seems particularly dramatic. Anyone have access to the full article?

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Joshua Gibbs
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Re: High Court defamation suit

Post by Joshua Gibbs » Sun Jul 24, 2016 1:28 pm

Greasemonkey scripts will let you read it fairly easily... or you could ask the author on twitter? Cached pages too
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Roger Lancaster
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Re: High Court defamation suit

Post by Roger Lancaster » Sun Jul 24, 2016 1:43 pm

Well, without wishing to offend others, I'd suggest there is a lesson for posters on this site. Most are temperate in their comments. But, before making unpleasant remarks about someone, no matter how justified you may consider they are, consider the worst case scenario that the someone in question might resort to the Courts!

Roger de Coverly
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Re: High Court defamation suit

Post by Roger de Coverly » Sun Jul 24, 2016 1:59 pm

FIDE has already have been asked to consider an issue involving the same parties.

http://arbiters.fide.com/minutes/fide-c ... -2015.html
The President of the Irish Chess Union refused to sign a FA norm from the Irish Chess Championship 2014 for Pete Morriss. Chairman Takis Nikolopoulos informed that the meeting of the Councillors in Dubai discussed the case and it was decided that since Mr. Morriss was present only for the five out of the nine rounds of the event, his FA norm cannot be accepted. In the meantime another valid norm was sent by Mr. Morriss. The federation didn’t submit the FA title application and it was submitted by the applicant himself to FIDE (according to the article 5.4 of the regulations for the titles of Arbiters). The recommendation is currently on “hold”, in order the Commission to get more clarification and information regarding the case. The final decision will be forwarded to the next FIDE Presidential Board.

Roger Lancaster
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Re: High Court defamation suit

Post by Roger Lancaster » Sun Jul 24, 2016 2:04 pm

Well, refusing to sign a piece of paper certainly isn't defamatory although articulating the reasons for not doing so might be!

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Joshua Gibbs
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Re: High Court defamation suit

Post by Joshua Gibbs » Sun Jul 24, 2016 2:36 pm

John Redmond wrote:Anyone have access to the full article?
I tweeted the author who told me it would be in today's Sunday Times.

I've just bought a copy, if it isn't in there I will take legal action.
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Tim Harding
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Re: High Court defamation suit

Post by Tim Harding » Sun Jul 24, 2016 3:04 pm

Joshua Gibbs wrote:
John Redmond wrote:Anyone have access to the full article?
I tweeted the author who told me it would be in today's Sunday Times.

I've just bought a copy, if it isn't in there I will take legal action.
It is on page 7 of the news section of the Irish edition. I would be interested to know whether the story is in editions sold in Great Britain.

The background to the action was quite possibly the matter referred to in Roger de Coverly's post.
As Roger Lancaster has surmised "...refusing to sign a piece of paper certainly isn't defamatory although articulating the reasons for not doing so might be!" That does seem to be the case here.

As it is sub judice we should probably not comment further and let this thread drop. I have not discussed this matter with any of the persons concerned and don't intend to comment further here or elsewhere. I will just offer the following factual information as background for readers who may be puzzled by the Sunday Times story, which says that neither Morriss's solicitor nor the ICU was prepared to comment on the dispute.

The plaintiff (Pete Morriss) was chairman of the Irish Chess Union in 2013-14. (The term of office running approximately October of the following year).

The chairman of the ICU in 2014-2015 was Pat Fitzsimons and the alleged defamation occurred on his watch but he is not a current office holder. So I am guessing that Pete Morriss's solicitor advised that the action should be taken against the current chairman, John McMorrow (named in the newspaper), though he was not an office holder at the time.

The other person named in the story is being sued is named as "Andrew Kildea, a former webmaster for the ICU site." He held that office for part of the 2014-2015 season, if I recall correctly, and Kildea was (is) ratings officer, a post to which he was re-elected at the last agm.

The Irish Chess Union is not (so far as I am aware) a limited company or other type of legally incorporated body so there could be complications. The story says: "A source said the ICU is seeking advice on whether Morriss can sue a union of which he is a member."
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David Robertson
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Re: High Court defamation suit

Post by David Robertson » Sun Jul 24, 2016 3:07 pm

Sunday Times July 24, 2016

TEXT START
In an unusual move, a former chairman of the Irish Chess Union (ICU) has filed a High Court defamation suit against the organisation and two of its members. Pete Morriss, who worked as a lecturer with NUI Galway, issued proceedings last month against the ICU, its present chairman John McMorrow and Andrew Kildea, a former webmaster for the ICU site.

A source in the chess community said the case was about a post on the ICU website that Morriss claims defamed him. It concerned his role as an arbiter in a chess tournament. Neither Morriss’s solicitor nor the ICU was prepared to comment on the legal dispute last week.

A source said the ICU is seeking advice on whether Morriss can sue a union of which he is a member.

According to the NUIG website, Morriss has worked in the university’s political science and sociology department. His research focused on “analytic approaches and western liberalism”. Morriss is said to be “particularly interested in applying philosophical understanding to selected areas of current political controversy”.

Although generally regarded as a sedate and cerebral game, the Irish chess community has been stricken with controversies in recent years. In 2013 gardai were called to a tournament in the Metropole Hotel in Cork after Gabriel Mirza, a Romanian-born former secretary of the ICU, kicked open a toilet door to find his 16-year-old opponent using a computer program to analyse their match. Mirza pulled the boy from the stalls. Both were expelled from the tournament. After the incident, Mirza said: “My opponent, after each move, he went out [to the toilet]. He went in and out 20 times. We had made 24 moves.”

When he was chairman of the ICU in 2014, Morriss was co-author of a letter to The Irish Times that criticised the newspaper’s coverage of the killing of Tom O’Gorman by Saverio Bellante after a row over a game of chess. The letter complained about the term “chess killing”.

“No one knows what triggered this horrific event, but it is certain it could not have been playing chess,” the letter stated. “Chess is played by millions of people around the world every day, in a friendly and peaceful way. Studies have consistently shown that playing chess has a calming effect, and also teaches patience and enhances self-esteem. It has therefore been used beneficially in many countries, including Ireland, in prisons and young offenders’ institutions as a means of rehabilitation. If more people played chess there would be a lot less violence in the world.”

The ICU has published a new draft code of conduct, which is to be discussed at an extraordinary meeting on August 7. It says abuse of arbiters, organisers and officials is “unacceptable”. The code also warns that verbal abuse of officials and players is a serious offence and against the rules of chess. “Loss of temper distracts opponents and other players and is not acceptable,” it points out.

The rules encourage players to “be a good sport” and “be respectful during the game” and “accept loss gracefully”. They also warn players to avoid remarks that could be construed as offensive or discriminatory because “sometimes even a joke may give offence”.
TEXT END

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Re: High Court defamation suit

Post by Tim Harding » Sun Jul 24, 2016 3:16 pm

That is a shorter version of the 12-paragraph story in the Irish edition.
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David Robertson
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Re: High Court defamation suit

Post by David Robertson » Sun Jul 24, 2016 3:24 pm

Tim Harding wrote:That is a shorter version of the 12-paragraph story in the Irish edition.
(massive facepalm - is there any hope for humanity?) That's because I compressed a couple of paragraphs to assist legibility. It's the full text.

Roger Lancaster
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Re: High Court defamation suit

Post by Roger Lancaster » Sun Jul 24, 2016 4:15 pm

Lawyers among us may know better but I think the case is sub judice only in the jurisdiction in which legal proceedings became active - in this case, presumably, the Republic of Ireland. However, since this forum is presumably read in Ireland, I suppose it's possible for someone in (say) England - if they write or say something really prejudicial - to find themselves in contempt in the Irish courts.

Jonathan Bryant
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Re: High Court defamation suit

Post by Jonathan Bryant » Sun Jul 24, 2016 5:56 pm

Roger Lancaster wrote:... before making unpleasant remarks about someone, no matter how justified you may consider they are, consider the worst case scenario that the someone in question might resort to the Courts!
Not even with our libel laws can you end up in court for making "unpleasant remarks". Which is not to say that somebody won’t threaten to sue just because they didn’t like what you said on here - but dealing with threats is a rather different matter to dealing with an actual court case

Martin Crichton
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Re: High Court defamation suit

Post by Martin Crichton » Sun Jul 24, 2016 7:45 pm

It all sounds a bit technical to me........i.e. that Pete was not in attendance for the 9 rounds is surely not in question... I was not playing in that tournament but I know one of the witnesses reasonably well and I believe that there were several other witnesses that could easily testify that Pete was not in attendance for the 9 rounds. It sounds like Pete is upset because of the way the case was handled? The ICU has a few years ago become an official charity and I understand that this was to overcome threats of being sued several years ago. So if the ICU and its officers are exempt from being sued? (my understanding) Will Pete not incur a massive legal bill? The high court day rates in Dublin are astronomical from what I understand.
The lawyers will be making a fortune but someone is going to be out of pocket big time...my guess is it wont be the ICU...but just in case I think I'll defer my subscription until after the dust settles here lol
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Roger de Coverly
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Re: High Court defamation suit

Post by Roger de Coverly » Sun Jul 24, 2016 8:16 pm

Martin Crichton wrote:The ICU has a few years ago become an official charity and I understand that this was to overcome threats of being sued several years ago. So if the ICU and its officers are exempt from being sued? (my understanding)
I wouldn't count on that, as a search for ICU chess charity doesn't come up with any useful hits. I believe it's an unincorporated body and if Irish law is similar to English Law, it's the officers of the organisation that have to answer to the law suits.

The also ECF submits applications for Arbiter titles, I would have thought that if there were doubts about the validity of an arbiting norm, they would settle it without involving FIDE.

There was quite a lengthy report on FIDE matters at the last ECF AGM.
http://www.englishchess.org.uk/wp-conte ... ort-v2.pdf

which amongst other issues reports
The Irish Chess Union applied for the FA Title for Peter Morriss. David Sedgwick was the lecturer when he passed the exam in Gatwick; the same course on which I passed. The wrangle here is that at an event in Ireland, there were three staff: Ted Jennings, Gerry Graham and Pete Morriss. Pat Fitzsimons, Chair of the Irish Chess Union, e-mailed AC to complain that in his final norm, Morriss was apparently not there on some occasions. Graham, when asked for comment, said that the norm was Jennings’ work. All parties seemed to agree that this was true. Jennings argued that Morriss had several potential norms he could call on if this one were rejected, and the letter from Fitzsimons is a continuation of an incident between Morriss and Fitzsimons before Fitzsimons succeeded Morriss as ICU Chair. It wasn’t clear to me what the decision was here: But it was odd that the ICU who submitted the title application, were then appealing their own title application.

Martin Crichton
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Re: High Court defamation suit

Post by Martin Crichton » Sun Jul 24, 2016 8:36 pm

"Jennings argued that Morriss had several potential norms he could call on if this one were rejected, and the letter from Fitzsimons is a continuation of an incident between Morriss and Fitzsimons before Fitzsimons succeeded Morriss as ICU Chair. It wasn’t clear to me what the decision was here: But it was odd that the ICU who submitted the title application, were then appealing their own title application."
My understanding of the issue was that is was signed off (sent off) by a certain person and that once the new exec (since gone) realised that there was an issue with the norm that they then sought to rectify the issue. So it was in fact not the ICU that submitted the application although you could be forgiven for assuming it was. Certainly appears to be some bad blood between the ex chairman Pete and the ex ICU exec but that's politics for you.
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