The European Court of Human Rights has ruled against Romanian billionaire and ex-tennis pro Ion Tiriac who sued a Romanian newspaper for allegedly invading his privacy.
Romanian Olympic Committee
Mr Tiriac, 82, who lives in Monte Carlo, is the 2nd-most richest Romanian and president of the Romanian Olympic Committee.
He sued daily Financiarul in 2010 and lost his case in Romania. He then took it to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.
The seven-judge panel ruled that the journalist had acted in good faith. It said the article had been a combination of facts and ‘value judgments.’
The ruling can be appealed within three months, a statement said Tuesday.
Mr Tiriac sued the publication over a 2010 article headlined: „Fifteen multimillionaires and their debts of a quarter of a billion lei to the State – The recipe for success is guaranteed when the businesses are funded by public funds or taxes are not paid”.
The article focused on unpaid taxes owed by the country’s richest businessmen.
The article claimed his 900 million euro fortune was “not sufficient to cover the debts. It also claimed they were directly connected to public procurement deals
Mr Țiriac brought proceedings against the journalist and against the holding company of the newspaper.
He asserted that the article had been defamatory both to him personally and the companies he was involved in.
He sued the publication for 130,000 euros damages claiming the article had damaged the rights to “to personal image, honor and dignity.”
He said the journalist had failed to provide clear and accurate information. He also claimed there were errors in the story regarding his alleged financial misdeeds.
The court said Financiarul’s annual ranking of wealthy Romanians was a matter of public interest, and debts that wealthy might have to the State was a relevant topic.
“The business activities and practices of some of the wealthiest Romanians
and their effect on the system of public tax collection,” was in the public interest.
The court also agreed with Romanian national courts that the article had not infringed in the applicant’s private life, but his professional activities, and that the article had not been exclusively about him.
The court noted the national courts’ findings that the article had not been offensive and there had not bee “bad faith on the part of the reporter or any discernible repercussions for the applicant’s life.”
Mr Tiriac earlier lost his case at the Bucharest County Court. He lost his appeal and the High Court of Cassation and Justice upheld the lower court rulings.