Former Haitian minister says O'Brien did not seek publicity for charity work

Thursday 07 February 2013 23.50
Denis O'Brien accepted he had given interviews to journalists about the preliminary findings of the tribunal
Denis O'Brien accepted he had given interviews to journalists about the preliminary findings of the tribunal

A former government minister from Haiti and former director of a charitable foundation has told the High Court that Denis O'Brien never sought publicity for his charity work in the country.

Josefa Gauthier, a former director of the Digicel Foundation which built 98 schools in Haiti, was giving evidence in a defamation action by the businessman against the Irish Daily Mail.

Ms Gauthier said Mr O’Brien's company Digicel was the only foreign investor to have a social division to their operations.

The foundation, funded by Mr O'Brien, concentrated on education and built schools in the country.

She said Mr O'Brien gave the foundation free rein to do what was needed.

He did not want the schools painted in the red and white colours of Digicel and never sought publicity.

After the earthquake Digicel looked after staff with money and tents, the only employer to do so, she said.

Ms Gauthier said she did not agree with comments in an Irish Daily Mail article, which suggested Mr O'Brien's presence in Haiti was an act to deflect from the Moriarty Tribunal.

Mr O’Brien is suing the newspaper for defamation, claiming the article in January 2010 suggested his presence in Haiti was hypocritical and motivated by self interest.

The Daily Mail is denying the article was defamatory.