Unite the Union apologises to Nick Coburn CBE

Carson McDowell’s Media, Communications and Reputation team is pleased to have assisted Nick Coburn CBE, Managing Director of Ulster Carpets, in his recent action against Unite the Union.

Mr. Coburn, well known in business and civic circles as former President of the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce, as well as his roles as a member of the Economic Advisory Group, the Strategic Trade Advisory Group and the Centre for Democracy and Peace Building, was left with little option but to take action following the issuance of a press release by Unite concerning pay negotiations.

The press release, circulated by Unite to numerous media outlets and journalists, as well as being published on Unite’s websites and social media channels, made untrue allegations concerning Mr. Coburn.

Following an exchange of pre-action correspondence, and the issuance of High Court proceedings, Unite published a detailed apology on its websites, on its social media channels, and directly to all those it had originally circulated the press release to.

The apology, published by Unite here, read:

On 18 November 2021 Unite published online and disseminated to the media a statement concerning Ulster Carpets, which contained untrue allegations about the Managing Director of Ulster Carpets, Nick Coburn CBE.

Unite accept that these allegations have no basis in fact, and that the statement contained errors such that it should never have been published. Unite unreservedly withdraws the allegations, and apologises to Mr. Coburn.

Unite has also agreed to make a donation to a charity of Mr. Coburn’s choosing, and to the legal costs incurred by Mr. Coburn, in order to draw a line under this matter.”

Multi-platform publication of the apology was accompanied by a financial settlement from Unite, with the proceeds going to a charity of Mr. Coburn’s choice.

Speaking following resolution, Mr. Coburn stated:

“I am very pleased this case has been resolved to my satisfaction. I am delighted that all proceeds from the resolution of this case will going directly to a local Charity.’’

Media, Communications & Reputation Senior Associate Fergal McGoldrick, with counsel Gerald Simpson KC, acted for Mr. Coburn in the proceedings.

If you require assistance or have a media law query, please contact a member of our Media, Communications & Reputation team.

**This information is for guidance purposes only and does not constitute, nor should be regarded, as a substitute for taking legal advice that is tailored to your circumstances.

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