TWO IRISH NEWS organisations have issued court proceedings against Leo Sherlock, the founder of TheLiberal.ie website.
Both Independent Newspapers Ltd, the publisher of the Irish Independent, and courts news service CCC Nuacht have alleged that TheLiberal.ie has passed off their content as its own.
Both media organisations confirmed to Fora that they had brought forward copyright infringement proceedings.
TheLiberal.ie was launched in 2014 and the website states it is owned by the Locksher Group – an international investment firm also owned by Sherlock that is based in Belfast.
The website has claimed it will give a platform to ”different opinions that exist in Irish society” and highlight “uncomfortable truths that are currently being ignored”.
Since it was set up, the website has predominantly published news and opinion pieces covering Irish current affairs.
Fora understands that Sherlock has been served with a final warning letter by lawyers representing one media organisation after he failed to acknowledge initial papers served to him.
Under the Copyright and Related Rights Act 2000, if it is ruled that Sherlock was in breach of copyright law, damages to be paid could reach up to €15,000 per case.
A spokesman for Independent News and Media declined to comment as legal proceedings are ongoing.
Sherlock was contacted for comment but was unavailable at the time this article was published.
Sherlock, who set up and runs TheLiberal.ie as a sole trader, has been outspoken on a number of issues in the media.
Last year he made an appearance on the Late Late Show where he stated his support for US president-elect Donald Trump.
Recently the website was criticised when it published a report in which it claimed a “massive riot of 250 mostly African Irish youths” occurred on St Stephen’s Day and accused other media organisations of failing to report on the incident.
TheJournal.ie has since confirmed with gardaí that there were public order arrests on 26 December in the area but “certainly no riot”.
In a statement, Sherlock hit back at the reports that his website published a fake news story and said: “the individuals who orchestrated this hate campaign want to stamp out free speech”.
In a separate action, Sherlock is also facing a date in the High Court for wrongly identifying a man as a former member of the IRA in an article published on his website.