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leon diop

Maynooth SU president who lost €75k defamation case against Luas operator launches appeal

In dismissing Leon Diop’s original case, the judge said that no words were spoken to Leon Diop that were defamatory.

THE PRESIDENT OF the Maynooth University Students’ Union has appealed an unsuccessful action against Luas operator Transdev, after saying security staff had “racially profiled” his brother and he after they were asked to leave a tram.

Earlier this month, Leon Diop lost a €75,000 defamation action in the Circuit Civil Court against Transdev and the company that provides its security, STT Risk Management.

He had told the court he and his brother had been passengers on a tram two years ago when two security men joined it and gestured for them to leave the train at a Luas stop, despite having shown valid tickets.

Diop said to them that being asked to produce tickets after other black youths had exited the tram was “slightly racial profiling”.

In dismissing the case in the Circuit Civil Court, Judge Terence O’Sullivan said that no words were spoken that were defamatory.

The judge said Diop was obviously a very successful student and he may reasonably have felt there was some issue concerning black youths on the Luas not paying for tickets and that he was being picked on and made a complaint that he and his brother were being racially profiled.

Judge O’Sullivan said the CCTV clearly showed the hand gestures and it looked as if he was being directed to leave.  The court could see the logic behind asking passengers to step onto the platform to deal with situations without holding up the trams.

“This is a nice young man who was affronted and while the gesture may be defamatory on its face it is protected by qualified privilege,” Judge O’Sullivan said.  “Racial profiling is not a tort (a wrong) that attracts damages in law and I must dismiss the claim.”

Diop has appealed the case through the Circuit Civil Appeals process.

It has been listed for mention on 8 October this year.

With reporting from Ray Managh