Freedom of the press challenged

Solicitors in Northern Ireland and the rest of the western world will be paying close attention to an appeal case which could have massive implications on the freedom of the press.

In a Belfast court this week, Northern Ireland solicitors will argue about the right to publish poor reviews in newspapers.

The issue came to light after a Northern Ireland restaurant owner sued the Irish News for libel following a review it printed in August 2000.

Solicitors secured £25,000 in damages for Ciaran Convery, who owns Goodfellas in Belfast, after he claimed Caroline Workman's review was a "hatchet job".

But now solicitors for the Irish News will go to the Court of Appeal in Belfast this Wednesday to argue that the ruling is a denial of freedom of expression.

The review was critical of the quality of the food and drink as well as the staff and Ms Workman only awarded the restaurant one mark out of a possible five.

Mr Convery's solicitors said the review was damaging, hurtful and defamatory.

The Irish News said the outcome of the case raised "profound questions involving the freedom of the press" and will now appeal.

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