Action against journalist dropped16 November 2012
The Principal of St Mary's University College in Twickenham, south-west London, has dropped his legal action against a Catholic journalist who said she was prepared to go to prison rather than comply with a High Court order to name a source.
Professor Philip Esler announced yesterday that he would take no further action against Josephine Siedlecka, owner of the Independent Catholic News (ICN) website. A number of senior church figures had contacted Professor Esler about the action.
In a statement, Professor Esler said that he had instructed his solicitors to take no further action against Ms Siedlecka because continuing with it threatened to cause "reputational damage" to St Mary's.
"I have reached the view that any further action I take (especially given my position as principal) to vindicate my position, although fully justified and in fact vindicated by the High Court order this week, will only further increase the risk of damage to the University College," he said.
Professor Esler's lawyers had obtained a court order to force Ms Siedlecka to reveal the identity of a letter-writer to whom she had promised anonymity. The principal alleged that the letter, which appeared on the website was defamatory and that it was part of a "concerted smear campaign" against him and two colleagues at St Mary's. It is not clear, however, whether the two colleagues - who were taking the action along with Professor Esler - have decided to stop proceedings.
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