The Irish police force, the gardai and security staff had to spring into action when a violent fracas broke out between up to 20 people in the Four Courts when it is claimed the defendant in a defamation action was attacked and injured.
The individuals involved had attended an action brought by a London-based Nigerian businesswoman, Rosala Uvbi Mku-Atu, who claims she has been defamed and threatened in social media posts by Ireland-based Ester Esabod Aboderin.
Shortly before the case was due to be heard by Ms Justice Leonie Reynolds, a violent fracas, involving up to 20 individuals, broke out in the area between the Four Courts Round Hall and the Supreme Court.
Court staff had to call on gardaí to help them restore order. A garda, supported by the Court Services’ own staff, then escorted several people out of the Four Courts.
The individuals had earlier been in Court 3, where the case was due to be mentioned. They were asked to leave by Judge Reynolds after some of them became loud and agitated.
When the case was recalled, Rory Kennedy, Bl for Ester Esabod Aboderin, told the judge that his client had been “seriously assaulted” by unknown parties and had suffered injuries including “cuts and bruises” to her face and body.
A complaint has been made to the gardai about the assault, counsel said.
In reply, Patrick O’Brien Bl for Ms Uvbi Mku-Atu, who was not in court, said his client had “no knowledge” about the people who were involved in the incident and “did not condone” what had occurred.
In July, the plaintiff secured a temporary High Court order requiring the defendant to remove threatening and defamatory comments she had allegedly posted on social media.
The judge also made orders under Section 33 of the 2009 Defamation Act which prohibits the reporting of the allegedly defamatory comments.
The judge, who noted that the gardaí were investigating the incident that took place outside the court, agreed to adjourn the case, with the orders remaining in place to October.
The judge heard that the defendant has removed the comments complained of from social media that was under her control.
There were concerns about posts on platforms not under the defendant’s control, but steps were being taken to address that issue, the court heard.
The court heard that the plaintiff, who lives in London due to ill health, is involved in property development, electricity-distribution businesses, and is also involved in philanthropy.
She claims that since May the defendant, who she does not know and has never met, has published numerous false, malicious, harmful, threatening and untruthful comments about her.
The comments relate to the plaintiff’s businesses, her philanthropy, and her personal reputation. Other comments, it is claimed, include threats to kill Ms Uvbi Mku-Atu and expressing a wish for her death in unpleasant ways.
The comments are contained in videos posted on Facebook and YouTube. It is claimed they reached a significant audience, have had thousands of views and have been shared.
Some of the posts call on Ms Esabod Aboderin’s online supporters to attack Ms Uvbi Mku-Atu, Irish Independent newspaper reports.