Former Meath footballer Liam Hayes is suing a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Irish Times over allegations that the affairs of the Gazette Group of local Dublin newspapers, of which Hayes is managing director, are being “conducted oppressively” by the national newspaper, which has a 52 per cent stake in the group.
The claims, which are before the High Court, are being challenged by The Irish Times, including Liam Kavanagh, its recently-appointed managing director. Kavanagh said they had lost confidence in Hayes as the group’s managing director which had incurred losses of up to €3.3 million up to March this year.
Kavanagh and Liam Holland, also of The Irish Times-owned company, D’Olier Investments, had both resigned as directors of the Gazette Group earlier this month in what they termed as the “complete lack of recognition” by the group’s management of its “parlous financial position”.
Kavanagh denied Hayes’s claim that a demand made by The Irish Times that a printing bill of €205,000 was meant to trigger a cash crisis in the group or amounted to a breach of a printing agreement. He also denied suggestions made by Hayes that he intended to interfere with the editorial integrity of the group.
The Gazette Group was launched by Hayes and Michael McGovern, a former director of Saatchi & Saatchi and Doherty Advertising, in 2004. Hayes had previously been involved with the Ireland on Sunday newspaper. The Irish Times acquired a 47 per cent stake in the group in 2007 and then later increased it to 52 per cent.
The case was mentioned briefly yesterday before Justice Mary Laffoy who agreed to adjourn it until July 12th.