An action for defamation against the Sunday Business Post, brought by businessman Denis O'Brien, is disgraceful and should be thrown out in its entirety, a jury at the High Court has been told.

Lawyers for the newspaper addressed the jury as the case reached its closing stages.

Mr O'Brien claims that articles published on 15 March 2015 giving details of a government report into Ireland's banks, portrayed him as one of a gang of 22 "developer kings" who destroyed the country and bankrupted its banking system. 

The newspaper says the articles do not have these meanings.

Senior Counsel, Michael McDowell told the three men and eight women there was no defamation whatsoever and Mr O'Brien's allegations were unfounded, manufactured, false, damaging, irresponsible and malicious.

He said Mr O'Brien claimed he had come to court to vindicate his character but was actually seeking condemnation of the Sunday Business Post and its editorial staff.

And he alleged Mr O'Brien was seeking damages from the jury because he wanted to exercise power over the newspaper, punish people he claimed were malicious and project his power against the former editor of the paper, Ian Kehoe and the paper's former business editor, Tom Lyons.

Mr McDowell told the jury that Mr O'Brien wanted them to find that these two men maliciously decided to damage his character and he said if the jurors concluded this was a wild allegation, they should not be afraid to throw the case out "lock, stock and barrel".

He told the jurors the case was an exercise in spoiling for a fight. And Mr O'Brien wanted to put down decent honest, truthful journalists who kept democracy going by telling the truth.

He urged the jurors not to fall for the "phoney effort" to persuade them that Mr O'Brien had been defamed and to throw the case out on its backside. 

Mr McDowell said there was no middle ground in this case.

If the defamatory meanings, claimed by Mr O'Brien, were incorrect, his case failed.

He told the jurors that Mr O'Brien's lawyers would claim he was a victim of defamation and had been forced to come to court to vindicate his character.

This was simply not the case Mr McDowell claimed.

He said Mr O'Brien did not have to begin these proceedings or continue with them.

He chose to bring the case and the notion that he was a victim was "wholly unsupported". 

Mr McDowell said if Mr O'Brien was correct that he had been defamed then this would be true of all the people mentioned in the article - there was nothing special about Mr O'Brien or nothing to say he was uniquely to blame.

The businessman was not especially picked out or unfairly lumped in with the others he said.

Mr McDowell said far from Mr Kehoe and Mr Lyons deciding to maliciously "have a crack" at Mr O'Brien, they were especially conscious of his propensity to litigate and to threaten to sue.  

He asked the jurors if they thought it was likely that the editor of a newspaper would sit down and deliberately decide to put things in an article which were deliberately untrue to damage Mr O'Brien.

He also asked the jurors to decide who was more likely to be telling the truth.  

He pointed out that Mr O'Brien claimed the figures in relation to his loans printed in the Sunday Business Post were wrong but refused to say by how much.

Mr O'Brien had also earlier accused Mr Lyons of acting improperly for not putting a figure to him when it transpired that under no circumstances would he have answered that question. 

He said this previous attempt by Mr O'Brien to damage Mr Lyons with his former employers, the Sunday Independent, showed a degree of malice and nastiness should not be forgotten.

Mr McDowell alleged that Mr O'Brien had given false evidence about correspondence with the former chairman of the Sunday Business Post and about correspondence with the Sunday Independent.

He said Mr O'Brien had claimed he had relevant correspondence, but that turned out not to be so.

Mr McDowell also reminded the jurors of a number of property developments Mr O'Brien had been involved with.

He said there was nothing defamatory about being a developer and Mr O'Brien had been one for all of his adult life - that did not mean he said that Mr O'Brien was not also a telecoms entrepreneur, or a radio station owner.

Mr McDowell said Mr O'Brien had given a "folksy, phoney and false account" of his reasons for putting his Portuguese leisure development Quinta Da Lago on the market for €220m and for taking it off the market again.

He said Mr O'Brien kept on repeating that he was not a developer, like a mantra, in order to claim he was the odd man out in the articles.

Mr McDowell told the jurors they had heard the evidence of Ian Kehoe and Tom Lyons that they considered taking Mr O'Brien out of the piece because of the "fear factor".

But an editor who had a table of 22 borrowers in front of them and left one out because of cowardice would not be worthy of the title he said.

He encouraged the jurors to decide who was telling the truth - the journalists or the "flamboyant" Mr O'Brien who saw himself as the victim of the articles.

Mr McDowell said in his evidence, Mr O'Brien had claimed he would not put it past Mr Lyons to have just plucked his name from the air and added it to the list published in the paper.

He said he had no way of knowing if the PwC report on Ireland's banks actually referred to him as one of the 22 biggest borrowers because he had never seen the report.

But Mr McDowell said by the time Mr Lyons was being cross examined, Mr O'Brien's lawyers produced a redacted portion of the report from the website of the 2015 banking inquiry.

He said they changed their story to claim that this table of 22 borrowers did exist and the newspaper was malicious not to have published information from this table showing Mr O'Brien had no land and development borrowings.

Mr McDowell also said Mr O'Brien's lawyers accused Mr Lyons of committing perjury by claiming his copy of the report was in black and white and had not seen a colour copy.

Mr McDowell said it was untrue that the Sunday Business Post had given Denis O'Brien a central role in the articles. He said the story was not about him.

And he said the small paragraph written about Mr O'Brien contained not one worth of defamation, just truth.

Mr McDowell said a reasonable reader, having read all of the articles would not come to the conclusion that Mr O'Brien's character had been injured.

He said the articles did not have the meanings alleged by Mr O'Brien and were published in good faith, for the public benefit on a subject of public interest.

The jurors heard a closing speech by lawyers for Mr O'Brien this afternoon.

Tomorrow morning Mr Justice Bernard Barton will address them before they begin considering their verdict.