Sunday 21 January 2018

Irish Mail bill of €40k for Tribune lookalike stunt

GUILTY: Newspaper broke consumer laws

THE publisher of the Irish Mail On Sunday has been found guilty of breaking consumer protection laws by publishing 26,000 Sunday Tribune look-alike editions.

Associated Newspapers (Ireland) (ANI), owners of the Irish Mail on Sunday, was prosecuted by the National Consumer Agency (NCA) at Dublin District Court for breaching consumer protection legislation. The newspaper group had pleaded not guilty to six charges.

The watchdog had brought the case against ANI after complaints by readers who bought the "special edition" Irish Mail on Sunday, on February 6 last year thinking they had purbought the Sunday Tribune, days after it went into receivership.

Yesterday, Judge Conal Gibbons found ANI guilty on four of the charges.

He noted the evidence from witnesses who bought the edition thinking it was the Sunday Tribune and who had felt "duped" and "cheated".

He also noted evidence from retailers and shop employees, who had thought they had been supplied with editions of the Sunday Tribune. Judge Gibbons rejected claims that it was a "trivial" matter and commended the work of NCA in their handling of the case.

He said he believed that the Irish Mail on Sunday did not deliberately try to deceive consumers by publishing the misleading special edition.


However, he described the decision to run the special edition as an "over-zealous" marketing exercise to attract former Sunday Tribune readers.

Judge Gibbons said he was applying the Probation Offender's Act, sparing ANI a criminal conviction, on the basis that they pay the NCA's legal costs, and donated €15,000 to charity, a bill totalling €40,000.

He specified that given the nature of the case, the charity should be nominated by the National Union of Journalists, with the view that the money would go to a benevolent fund for journalists.

A receiver was appointed to the Sunday Tribune on February 1 and two days later a decision was made not to bring out a final edition on February 6.


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