Irish Court Deals a Blow to Founder of St. Louis Sun

Article excerpt

Less than four years after the failure of his splashy tabloid, the St. Louis Sun, Ralph Ingersoll II has struck out again. This time in Ireland. This time reducing his newspaper empire "to practically nil," according to an Irish editor.

"You are out totally, subject to payments," the High Court in Dublin told the Ingersoll organization, according to a story in the Jan. 15th issue of Editor & Publisher. The court ordered Ingersoll to sell his interest in Irish Press Group, which controls three newspapers.

Ingersoll, now living in London, did not attend the lengthy Dublin trial. He said he will appeal. The Irish High Court in Dublin will hear appeals on Feb. 15.

Repeated efforts to speak with Ingersoll at Ingersoll Publishing in London were unsuccessful. In earlier remarks to Dublin's Sunday Business Post, Ingersoll attempted to remove himself from the fray. "I am a minority shareholder in a Dutch company that has a shareholding in the holding company," he said.

The adverse ruling came after a bitter court fight late last year. Dublin's High Court ruled "in a very comprehensive judgment against him," said Michael Keane, editor of the Sunday Press in Dublin, one of the properties in which Ingersoll had invested. Keane has relatives in the St. Louis area.

Accused of a breach of his management contract, "he was ordered to pay damages for losses from November 1992 through December '93," said Keane. "Submissions of what those damages were will be presented to the court. Irish Press PLC (which owns part of Irish Press Group) claims the losses were in the range of 12 million Irish pounds," roughly $17.2 million in American dollars.

Ingersoll's troubles in Ireland pitted him against a family that is something of the Irish equivalent of America's Kennedy clan. Eamon de Valera, managing director of Irish Press PLC and grandson of the man who took part in the 1916 Easter Rebellion that led to Irish independence, was part of the lawsuit against Ingersoll.

Ingersoll counter-sued, claiming de Valera had done things he was not authorized to do. Eamon de Valera's grandfather and namesake founded the newspapers in the 1920s. He was president and prime minister of Ireland, off-and-on from the early '30s through the mid-'70s. In its ruling, the High Court agreed with de Valera and Irish Press PLC that Ingersoll failed to provide the management expertise that had been promised. …