Tracking the Suits


Here's a scorecard of the various libel suits involving the 1991 TV documentary The Committee or Sean McPhilemy's 1998 book of the same title:

? Alleged Committee member and prominent Belfast solicitor Richard Monteith filed a criminal libel action against Executive Producer Sean McPhilemy for statements he allegedly made about Monteith in a BBC interview about the program in August 1992.

The case was dismissed in March 1993.

? Richard Monteith filed a contemporaneous libel suit against Channel 4. The case was settled out of court. Settlement terms are confidential, but Channel 4 presumably paid money to Monteith.

? Monteith filed a civil libel suit against McPhilemy in May 1993. The suit was voluntarily dismissed by Monteith.

? Monteith filed a libel action against The Sunday Times in May 1993 for printing McPhilemy's comments about him. The suit was settled, with The Sunday Times paying £50,000 to Monteith.

? McPhilemy sued The Sunday Express in 1994 for accusing him of deceiving Channel 4 about the threats to his life in 1991, and of filing a false affidavit on the subject. The suit was settled out of court with apologies and £132,000 in damages to McPhilemy.

? McPhilemy filed a libel action in 1996 against The Sunday Times for accusing McPhilemy of perpetrating a "hoax" in the broadcast. The case is scheduled for trial in January 2000.

? In October 1998, David and Albert Prentice, two prominent Ulster businessmen and alleged members of The Committee, filed a libel suit in Washington, D.C., against McPhilemy, his production company, and the publisher of McPhilemy's book. The case is scheduled for trial in March 2000.

? Trevor Forbes, a former head of the RUC Special Branch and an alleged member of The Committee, filed a libel suit in June 1999 against Barnes & Noble over a "sample chapter" of the book that it published on its Web site. The case is pending.

? This year, alleged Committee associate David Trimble sued and its British division over the book, which prior to this suit was available to British customers at subsequently withdrew the book from sale in the U.K., but it is still available to U.K. customers through The case is pending.