It was the eleventh day of the case and Sammy Smyth was wearing his eleventh clean white shirt. Sammy, and the Sunday World for which he writes had been accused by Michael Deighan of assault and libel. After three-and-a-half-hours, the jury had returned and everyone, including thirteen members of the Sunday World staff, was waiting for the verdict. The jurors, seven men and five women, looked tired and a little bored, Seamus McKenna SC for the defence was playing nervously with his glasses and a few people were still trying to squeeze into the packed courtroom. Michael Deighan was nowhere to be seen. By Fintan O'Toole

In May 1979, Sammy Smyth got a new assignment. Two young women had phoned the Sunday World and spoken to Eamon McCann. They had answered an ad in the Irish Times looking for photographic models and had arranged interviews in the Gressham Hotel. There they met a man whom they knew as 'Mr. Daly' and whom later they identified as Michael Deighan. The following day they phoned the Sunday World because they were suspicious of Deighan's inntentions and because the paper had previously run a story on a man who had lured girls into signing contracts to go to Saudi Arabia.

The Sunday World went into action.

The girls had arranged to meet Deigghan again on the following Monday in the Belvedere Hotel. Eamon McCann arranged a meeting for an earlier time in the nearby Dergvale Hotel between one of the girls and himself, Sammy Smyth, Cathal O'Shea, Liam O'Connnor and Val Sheehan. McCann also phoned another Sunday World reporrter, Pauline Cronin and asked her to go along to the Gresham Hotel and be interviewed by Deighan. At this stage the Sunday World still thought they were dealing with a man called Daly. They did not know, in fact, until after they had published their first article about the story that the man in question was Michael Deighan. As Eamon McCann says 'We had caught a bigger fish than we thought.'

When he came to sue the Sunday World, Michael Deighan presented himself as an innocent small farmer and market gardener, set up by a massscirculation newspaper in search of a juicy story. He admitted that he had had a 'brush with the law' in 1958 when he was convicted of stealing cigarettes but he vehemently denied that he was a ruthless criminal who made large sums of money from criiminal and immoral activities. His lifeestyle, however, was not entirely connsistent with that of a man who lives off ten and a half acres in North Counnty Dublin, selling vegetables from his glasshouse. He has six horses and two cars, a Rover and a red Mustang, he recently sold his vintage Shelby. He also has a farm in County Leitrim, but he has no income from it, since, he says, it is occupied by a squatter.

Mr. Deighan's 'brush with the law' in 1958 was rather more serious than he wished to imply in court. He was, in fact, convicted of stealing a thoussand pounds worth of cigarettes, enough at the time to pay for a semiidetached house. Indeed, had the Sunnday World asked around the Four Courts about Michael Deighan. they would probably have learned that he was no stranger to the processes of law. He frequently attends court hearrings where acquaintances of his are innvolved. Maurice Marley, from whom Deighan says he bought the County Leitrim farm is currently awaiting trial on charges of defrauding the Departtment of Agriculture. Deighan was accepted as bailsman for Marley, along with Matt Kelly (the carpet king), and he has also gone bail for Marley before.

One of the witnesses for Deighan, and also an acquaintance of his, was Noel Hannon, who has convictions for stealing and shop-breaking and was also accused of unlawful carnal knowwledge. A number of Deighan's associates sat in court throughout the hearring. Occasionally, one of them would leave the court, walk across the domed hallway and tum the comer to where Deighan sat, examining documents. When he was on the witness stand, Deighan showed a surprising knowwledge of the law. Once, under crosssexamination from T. K. Liston SC, he turned to Mr. Justice Gannon. 'My Lord,' he said 'I was always under the impression that in law he who affirms must confirm.'

On May 4th 1979, when the two girls who had been in touch with the Sunday World went to keep their appointment in the Belvedere Hotel, Sam Smyth and Cathal O'Shea still believed they were after a man called Mick Daly. The girls knew that the reeporters would be waiting in the Derggvale Hotel. They had been told that the Sunday World would take full responsibility. In the Belvedere, Deigghan took them up to a bedroom and had them change into the swimming costumes which he had told them to bring along. Deighan told them that a top model would have to keep fit and he got them to. do exercises both stannding up and lying on the bed. He menntioned that there was more freedom of movement doing exercises with no clothes on. One of the girls was held around the waist by Deighan and at one stage he said that there was a bit of dust on her breast and brushed it off. When this girl was alone with Deighan for a few minutes, he spoke to her about topless modelling. All this time, the Sunday World reporters were waiting nearby.

Meanwhile, Pauline Cronin, had on Eamon McCann's instructions, been innterviewed by Deighan under the name of Paula Crowley. He arranged to meet her again at the Shelbourne Hotel, where he was much more friendly than before and told her that he felt 'at ease' with her. He spoke of yachts and a villa in Marbella and gave the impresssion that he was very wealthy. He told her that the work would include calenndar photographs, topless pictures and nude shots. He said that some of the girls he had interviewed were not suittable because they wore padded bras. He asked her to become involved in twenty-minute blue movies, saying that he had two male models, one an Indian and the other a German. When a man came in and sat nearby, he told her that he was one of his models and that he was 'big'. He told her that she could make £ 1,000 per film and that she could do up to five films a week.

Deighan had arranged another meeting with the two young women who were in touch with the Sunday World, this time in Power's Hotel. Sammy Smyth, Cathal O'Shea and photographer Liam O'Connor arranged to wait outside the hotel for Deighan after he had interviewed the girls. There were three of them there this time, and they did twists and twirls around a hotel bedroom. As the girls left, they spoke to the Sunday World team and then went off to Hunter's pub to wait for them. What happened when Deighan emerged from the Hotel at about seven o'clock was one of the central issues in his complaint against the Sunday World.

Deighan claimed that he was assaullted by the two reporters, that he 'ran like hell' to Hunter's and locked himmself in the toilet. He said that Sam Smyth climbed up the toilet door to look in at him. The Sunday World team, on the other hand, said that the

whole thing had been 'rather humourrous'. Liam O'Connor described himmself running backwards, pirouetting to take photographs of Deighan as he ran. He said that he was laughing because he had never seen his colleagues runnning before. Sammy Smyth insisted that there was nothing unusual in him running after people he wanted to innterview. 'Politicians' he said 'can sometimes move very quickly.'

There was confusion in the court as the jury's verdict was announced. The judge had already ruled out, on legal grounds, any damages to Deighan for the injuries he had claimed were a result of the alleged assault, but connsiderable libel damages and legal costs amounting to about £80,000 were still at stake. As the jury's answers to a series of questions set them by Mr. Justice Gannon were read out, it was not clear who had won. The jury found that Deighan had attempted to induce girls to enter into contracts for pornographic photographs and films but, they did not consider all of the facts alleged by the Sunday World to have been true. However, they decided that in the light of those allegations which were true, the untrue ones did not damage Deighan's reputation. They also found that the comments made by the Sunday World about Deighan were true and fair and that the subject matter of the articles was of public interest. However, the jury also felt that Deighan had been deefamed and considered his reputation worth £100.

Even before Mr. Justice Gannon had made his ruling, with costs, in favour of the Sunday World, Deighan's associates hurried out of the court and scattered in various directions. 4