VEC face huge bill after defamation case settled
A DEFAMATION and personal injuries case taken against County Wexford VEC has been settled on the steps of the High Court.
Tom Cullen, a former Education Officer with the VEC is to receive substantial damages in an agreed settlement.
The case was listed in the High Court last Tuesday but was settled before it came to hearing.
Mr. Cullen who worked with the County VEC since 1973, brought an action for damages, alleging that he suffered personal injury including stress and loss of his good name.
The case centred around an accusation that he signed off on his own expenses for fees related to a health education course that he attended in 2007.
Mr. Cullen claimed that he was accused of fraud and that he was bullied, harassed and intimidated during the course of his position.
He retired as Education Officer in 2008 having previously served as Adult Education Officer for 20 years and prior to that as a maths teacher at Gorey Vocational College.
Mr. Cullen of Ferrybank was represented by Ercus Stewart S.C. and Michelle de Bruin, B.L., instructed by the Wexford solicitor Lisa McDonald.
When the case was called, Mr. Stewart informed Ms. Iseult O'Malley that a settlement had been reached.
Michael Delaney, S.C. for County Wexford VEC said the education body wished to thank Mr. Cullen for his long years of service and to wish him good health in his retirement.
It is understood that Mr. Cullen is to receive substantial damages including costs.
Legal costs in the case which has been ongoing for five years, are estimated to run to hundreds of thousands of Euro.
Mr. Cullen was accompanied in court by his wife Breda, his three daughters and his son-in-law.
Afterwards, he said he was 'delighted it is all over.'
' This was hanging over our lives like a dark cloud for the past five years.'
He thanked his family and friends for their support during that time.
Mrs. Cullen said her husband requested mediation through his legal team but this request was ignored.
She said the issue could easily have been resolved within the VEC system, thereby avoiding the spending of a huge amount of money at a time when some schools are deprived of Special Needs Assistants and Wexford and Enniscorthy Vocational Colleges have had no night classes for the past two years.
'All we ever wanted was justice,' she added.