An Irish company executive has been awarded €10 million in damages in a landmark libel case against the mining firm he worked for, claiming that they damaged his reputation in a press release following a naked sleepwalking incident.
Donal Kinsella, 67, was awarded the €10 million (£8.5 million) after a Supreme Court ruled that mining company Kenmare Resources PLC had defamed him by failing to exonerate him from any sexual impropriety in a sleepwalking incident that occurred three years ago.
The incident in question occurred in May 2007, on a trip to Mozambique to the company’s Moma Titanium Minerals mine. It was claimed that whilst sleepwalking one night, a naked Mr Kinsella approached the room of company secretary Deirdre Corcoran, who later complained.
Plans to remove Mr Kinsella from his position as chair of Kenmare’s audit committee were reportedly set in motion, starting with the press release.
The Supreme Court found that the press release failed to exonerate Mr Kinsella from any inferred sexual impropriety, and was designed to cause him embarrassment. To compensate him for this humiliation, Mr Kinsella was awarded €10 million, an amount that is five times larger than any previous libel payout.
Even though the company is likely to have professional indemnity insurance in place to cover this cost, a representative from Kenmare has said:
“The amount of €10m is over five times greater than the previous record amount granted in an Irish defamation case. This previous award is currently under appeal as being grossly excessive.