Former Belfast Councillor to pay out £63,000 to James McClean over comment

Derry footballer James McClean (Photo: INPHO/Ryan Byrne)
Derry footballer James McClean (Photo: INPHO/Ryan Byrne)

A former Belfast councillor who made a false comment about Republic of Ireland footballer James McClean is to pay out £63,000, the High Court has heard.

The settlement covers damages and legal costs of the Stoke City player’s defamation action against Chris McGimpsey.

A judge was told Mr McGimpsey, a former Ulster Unionist Party representative, will make the payment in two instalments.

He has already issued an unreserved apology for unfounded comments made “in the heat of the moment” during a radio programme debate.

Mr McClean, 30, sued following the ex-councillor’s appearance on BBC Radio Ulster’s Nolan Show in November 2018.

The court heard previously that the remarks were then repeated and the focus of commentary on social media.

A statement was read out on Mr McGimpsey’s behalf at that stage, setting out how he had referred to the Derry-born winger.

It stressed that he did not intend to communicate any affiliation between Mr McClean and the Provisional IRA, but accepted the remarks were false and completely inaccurate.

The case had been adjourned for discussions on the level of damages.

In court today counsel for Mr McClean announced a final outcome in the case.

Peter Girvan said: “The claim relates to publication by the defendant during the Nolan Show last November, in which he made a statement which defamed the plaintiff by affiliating the plaintiff with the Provisional IRA.”

He confirmed his client has accepted Mr McGimpsey’s apology, and the terms of an agreement reached on the outstanding issues.

Mr Girvan went on: “The defendant has agreed to pay £63,000, in respect of costs and compensation, in two instalments.”

Neither Mr McClean nor Mr McGimpsey were in court for the final resolution.

But Mr Justice Maguire acknowledged the efforts made to secure the settlement.