Investigative journalist Gemma O'Doherty has settled her defamation action against her former employers Independent Newspapers and the group's Editor-in-Chief Stephen Rae.

Ms O'Doherty sued the paper and Mr Rae for defamation as a result of her treatment following an investigation she carried out into the penalty points controversy.

An apology was read out in court, in which Independent Newspapers acknowledged Ms O'Doherty's exceptional work as a multi-award winning investigative journalist for the paper during the course of a lengthy career.

The newspaper accepted that she acted at all times in a professional and diligent manner and in the best interests of Independent Newspapers.

It unreservedly apologised to Ms O'Doherty for the stress and hardship caused to her and her husband as a result of its actions.

Independent Newspapers has agreed to pay Ms O'Doherty undisclosed damages and to indemnify her in relation to her legal costs.

Ms O'Doherty was made redundant in August 2013. 

She settled her unfair dismissal case against the company just before Christmas.

In a statement, Ms O'Doherty said today's apology in the High Court was another complete vindication of her reputation as an investigative reporter.

She said journalists had an obligation to hold power to account, in An Garda Síochána, Dáil Éireann, the Health Service Executive and other institutions of the State.

She said journalists must be allowed to do their work without fear or favour, to defend the public interest and the rights of citizens, especially victims of injustice and the marginalised.

Ms O'Doherty's solicitor, Paul Tweed of Johnsons, said it was perhaps a sign of the times that she was the fourth journalist in as many weeks for whom he had to take action against various other organisations, to safeguard their professional integrity.