A RATHKEALE man who is suing magazine publisher Bloomberg for $23m (€19m) has said that an article he claims linked him to the illegal trade in rhino horns has left him suffering “severe emotional, psychological and medical distress”.
Richard Kerry O’Brien has lodged a libel action against the media giant over an article which was published in Businessweek magazine in January of last year under the headline The Irish Clan Behind Europe’s Rhino Horn Theft Epidemic.
The story investigated the global trade in rhino horns, and the involvement of the so-called Rathkeale Rovers gang in this and other criminal activity.
The article, by Adam Higginbotham, made reference to Mr O’Brien whom it described as “the King of the Travellers”.
It also referred to the arrest in the United States of Mr O’Brien’s son, also named Richard, for buying rhino horns. However, Mr O’Brien has denied any connection with the Rathkeale Rovers. In papers filed with the New York Supreme Court, his lawyer states: “Richard Kerry O’Brien has never been a member of, or associated with, any criminal ‘clan’, group, gang, organisation or network, specifically the Rathkeale Rovers. He has never held himself out in his community as the ‘king’ of any group that partakes in criminal activity.”
The lawsuit claims that since the story was published last January, Mr O’Brien “has been subject to much ridicule and scorn”.
“As the public ridicule, embarrassment, shame, hatred and harassment against Plaintiff continues, his despondency over the publication of the article and its impact on his life continues to grow,” it continued.
Bloomberg has this week defended its reporting of the story.