Northern Ireland

Paddy Jackson's father wins libel action over false Twitter claims

 Paddy Jackson with mother and father
 Paddy Jackson with mother and father  Paddy Jackson with mother and father

The father of former Ireland and Ulster rugby star Paddy Jackson has secured judgment in a libel action over false claims that he offered to pay off the complainant in his son's high-profile rape trial.

Peter Jackson sued when the unfounded allegations appeared on Twitter last year.

The postings came after 27-year-old Paddy Jackson and former team-mate Stuart Olding, 26, were both unanimously acquitted of raping the same woman.

Defamation proceedings were brought at the High Court in Belfast against two women from the Republic of Ireland.

Judgment was entered against Dublin-based Danielle Collins after no defence was filed in the case against her.

Any damages are expected to be assessed once the second lawsuit is dealt with.

Both cases relate to Twitter activity in April 2018 - a month after the two rugby players were cleared of rape in Belfast.

In a statement following the outcome reached in the first libel action, Peter Jackson insisted that he had to face up to those behind the fictitious accusations.

He pointed to a major review of how rape trials are handled in Northern Ireland, carried out by retired judge Sir John Gillen, as highlighting "the scourge of social media on society".

Mr Jackson explained: "I realised that I simply had to face up to the people responsible for posting these false allegations.

"I hope that my actions in helping to bring perpetrators of fabricated claims to justice will inspire and open the doors for others who have suffered at the hands of similar defamatory posts."

He added that he strongly believed it had been "appropriate and just" to bring court proceedings.

"If it encourages others to stand up for what is right in the face of false accusations here in Northern Ireland, on the island of Ireland and beyond these shores, then this will have all been worthwhile in the face of such adversity."

Mr Jackson's lawyer, Kevin Winters of KRW Law, confirmed the background to the libel action.

"A damaging allegation was made that he tried to pay off the complainant in a failed criminal prosecution against his son Patrick Jackson," the solicitor said.

"I commend Peter Jackson's bravery in stepping forward to protect his good name. His case was taken against a difficult background of heavy social media activity."

With proceedings continuing against the second defendant, Mr Winters added:

"The judicial system is still playing catch-up in this area, but I think the case marks an important step in addressing the current imbalance."