Football manager wins libel damages

Website apologises to Aston Villa manager Martin O’Neill for “tapping up” allegation

The manager of Aston Villa and former Northern Ireland international Martin O’Neill has received substantial undisclosed damages and an apology from the publishers of the website for false allegations that he had “tapped up” Artur Boruc, goalkeeper at O’Neill’s former club, Celtic.


An article published in April 2007 in the “transfer gossip” column of the specialist football website headed “O’Neill looks to feeder club for keeper” alleged that Mr O’Neill had engaged a football agent in an attempt to lure Boruc away from Celtic in breach of his contract with the club. Such conduct has become known as “tapping up” and is a breach of the rules of FIFA, the Football Association and the Premier League.


In a statement in open court read to Mr Justice Eady on 23 April 2008 by Mr O’Neill’s solicitor Paul Hackney of Geldards, 365 Media Group plc, the publishers of accepted that the allegations were totally without foundation and should not have been published.


The Court was told that 365 Media Group plc offered their sincere apologies to Mr O’Neill and had agreed to pay him substantial damages and his legal costs.


5RB’s Jacob Dean (instructed by Geldards) acted for Mr O’Neill.