Malachy McCourt has won a libel case with Independent News & Media (INM) after the Sunday Independent wrongly accused the Irish-American writer, actor and politician of serving jail time for domestic abuse against his ex-wife, The Sunday Times reports.

Emer O’Kelly made the claim on January 4 last year in an opinion piece under the headline “Assaulting partners is more than a mere domestic dispute.”

McCourt, 84, has now received an apology and damages from the Sunday Independent for wrongly stating that McCourt “in a drunken rage, broke down the door of his ex-wife’s flat and assaulted her and served six months in jail for the crime.”

McCourt, who is the younger brother of the late author Frank McCourt, said he was shocked when he read the article.

“The opening paragraph started off essentially saying I had started a whole scheme of domestic violence, including murder, throughout Ireland,” he said. “I was so astonished I didn’t know what to do.”

After seeing the article, McCourt spoke to Peter Sheridan, a fellow writer, who put him in touch with Simon Carty, a lawyer who filed defamation proceedings. 

Independent News & Media (INM) was defended by Meagher Solicitors, the same firm that represents Denis O’Brien, INM’s largest shareholder, in defamation actions.

McCourt’s case was settled with an agreement that INM pays his legal costs.

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