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Defamation case is settled out of court


A LEADING Irish Lhasa Apso breeder last week won a case for defamation of character after he was accused of ill-treating a dog.

The parties involved settled out of court, with a statement being read out in court to effect that a public apology would be issued by the individual accused of making the defamatory remarks.

Argument

The argument leading to the defamation began at the Belfast Championship Show in 2001, when Lhasa Apso breeder/exhibitor Jimmy McFarlane of Michaeeo prefix invited his friend and fellow breeder, the late Ken Woosnam, and Mr Woosnam’s partner Pam Shaekyls to his nearby house to view a litter of pups that he had bred.

Whilst there, the couple saw a bitch that they had given to Mr McFarlane previously, Sure Quicksilver and Pantaulf, known as ‘Witney’. Witney had originally been bought by Mr Woosnam for Ms Shaekyls, but, knowing that Mr McFarlane had taken a liking to the bitch, the couple gave Witney to Mr McFarlane.

During the meeting, Mr McFarlane told Mr Woosnam and Ms Shaekyls that he had mated Witney to a dog of his own Michaeeo breeding. Ms Shaekyls allegedly expressed her disapproval of this mating, much to the dismay of Mr McFarlane.

Comments

According to Mr McFarlane and others, derogatory comments were made about both the bitch and the mating at the Belfast championship show. Eventually, by the end of the day, Mr McFarlane was so angered by these comments that he told Ms Shaekyls that she could have the bitch back, and indeed drove over to the couple’s house that same evening to deliver Witney. It was not known at that stage whether the bitch was pregnant or whether she subsequently whelped, but Mr McFarlane told OUR DOGS that he had not seen Witney since that day two years ago.

Mr Woosnam later died, much to the sadness of many people, including Mr McFarlane, with whom he had been a close friend for many years.

Explanation

Some time later, Miss Shaekyls complained to the Lhasa Apso Club of Great Britain about Mr McFarlane’s treatment of Witney, claiming that he had broken the club’s code of ethics. The club wrote to the Proposed Lhasa Apso of Northern Ireland calling for Mr McFarlane to be struck off the Club’s members’role. No communication was sent to Mr McFarlane by the English club. However, the Northern Irish club wrote direct to Mr McFarlane and appraised him of the allegations, inviting him to a meeting to discuss the matter.

The matter was discussed at a meeting, with the club officials disbelieving the allegations made against Mr McFarlane and accepting his explanation of events. Mr McFarlane subsequently instigated formal legal proceedings [against Ms Shaekyls] for defamation of character.

Mr McFarlane produced several photographs of Witney to show that she had been in good health whilst under his care, whilst several judges and handlers from all over Ireland were due to testify in court on his behalf that the bitch had been well cared for and sound in every respect.

Mr McFarlane’s barrister met with Ms Shaekyl’s barrister at the Belfast County Court last week and agreed between the two parties to settle the matter out of court. A brief statement was read out in court to the effect that a statement would be issued by Ms Shaekyls for publication within the dog press, withdrawing her remarks, and the case was closed. Mr McFarlane did not seek financial restitution for damages or legal fees.

Settled

Jimmy McFarlane told OUR DOGS earlier this week: ‘I wanted the matter settled with minimum of fuss and I am happy with the outcome. I have no further comment to make.’

Pam Shaekyls was unavailable for comment up to the time of going to press, despite two answerphone messages being left for her.

The statement from Ms Shaekyls is due to be issued next week
.