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David Norris says tabloid editor told him stories about him were "payback"

Independent senator and former Presidential candidate scathing of media standards during discussion in Seanad.

Image: Niall Carson/PA Wire

SENATOR DAVID NORRIS has made an allegation in the Seanad today that a tabloid editor told him that stories published about him were “payback time”.

The former Presidential candidate was speaking as part of the Seanad discussion on media standards which is currently ongoing. Senator Norris said that the editor said the articles were “payback time for what I had done in standing up for victims of invasion privacy” and specifically because of his focus on Ireland’s defamation law.

Norris called a speech by Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte as “pretty limp” and said that the debate in the Seanad should include discussion of what he described as “bullying” by the media of public figures. He also claimed that “bullying happens inside every single newspaper” and that he had proof of it but that those people who supplied him with the information were afraid to stand up against their “editorial masters”.

He was scathing of the “self-regulating” Press Council and said that “every newspaper” had carried editorials calling for other professions to have independent regulators – except their own profession. He also said that he had had to change his phone number three or four times but that “Grub Street” had managed to get his new number with little difficulty. He finished on an angry call for the Government to tackle the Irish media and claimed that there was not one TV, newspaper or broadcasting outlet that had not “villified me, blackguarded me, defamed me and libelled me”.

Senator Norris had become the focus of intense media scrutiny over letters written to the Israeli High Court in 1997 in defence of his former partner, asking for leniency after that partner, Ezra Nawi, was found guilty of having sex with an underage teenager in 1992.

David Norris resigned from the Presidential race for a time before rejoining and finished fifth in the field of seven candidates.

The Seanad statements on media standards; Pat Rabbitte criticises descent of media into “corrosive cynicism”>

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