Journalist Kitty Holland has told Gript that she did not personally witness a reported attack on a migrant camp, and says that the Irish Times refuses to publish photographs of the men she alleges carried out the attack for fear of a defamation case being brought against the paper.
Speaking to Gript, Holland said that she had been “clear” in her original article that she was not present at the camp during the alleged incident.
She added: “I never said I witnessed it.”
Despite Holland’s statement that her initial piece was clear that she had not witnessed any physical attack, multiple media outlets described Holland as having “witnessed” an attack, including her own employer, the Irish Times, as well as state broadcaster RTÉ and the largest online news site, the Journal.ie.
Gript also asked Holland to clarify some details of her account since the story had broken over the weekend.
On Monday, Holland told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland show that she and her photographer were arriving on the scene as the alleged assailants were leaving, and that “one of the men said he’d break [the photographer] if he tried to take any photos.”
She added: “The photographer did get some photos of them from behind as they were leaving.”
However, in a later interview on Newstalk’s The Hard Shoulder the same day, she said that she couldn’t release the photos because the men would be “too readily identifiable.”
When asked how the men would be identified if the photos were from behind, she replied: “That’s the legal advice I have. To be honest, I don’t know if I’m allowed to go into it.”
She then explained:
“The legal advice is that even from behind they’re identifiable through the hats they’re wearing, the very unusual runners one of them is wearing, the dogs they have…that’s the legal advice I have.
I don’t think they’re identifiable, but the Irish defamation laws apparently say that even if they could bring two people into court to say “Yes, that’s my Graham and he was out minding his own business and had nothing to do with this, and the Irish Times…”
She added that the situation was “infuriating for me, because people are saying we’ve made it up.”
On why she wouldn’t simply take a photo or video using her camera phone, she said that “It happened very fast.”
“My phone has so many security things on it that by the time I got the phone out, and put in the six digit password, and opened it up, and got the camera up, and put in the other password to get past the Irish Times, they were gone,” she explained.
When asked why she wouldn’t have filmed or photographed any of the alleged injuries, or the aftermath to the attack, she said “None of the men wanted to be identified even as homeless people.”
“I have all their names, but they didn’t want their names used….So the photos we have were taken before and after, they don’t show bruises, they don’t show people crying, they don’t show the tent that was knocked over and so on.
“We couldn’t take any photos of them. The man who ended up in hospital had x-rays and stuff – apparently there were no bones broken. I suppose we could have taken a photo of him rubbing his arm, but that would have been…” she said.
She added that the photographer would be meeting with the Gardaí later today to give them the photos, and that she herself would be making a statement to the Guards.
Holland also criticised Gript editor John McGuirk for his coverage of the story in a number of op-eds this week, saying she was “kind of surprised” at the way he “went after” her.