Fro top: Ian Drennan, Director of the Office of Corporate Enforcement; Denis O’Brien (right) with former INM chairman Leslie Buckley
Computer specialists that monitored the networks of Independent News & Media (INM) without the knowledge of the company’s board were paid by Denis O’Brien, According to claims in an affidavit filed with the High Court by the the state’s corporate watchdog.
The Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) uncovered emails containing a list of names which were to be searched for in the ‘data interrogation’,.
“Persons of interest” were identified on the list and the document refers to “email hits” against current and former journalists, former directors and executives, staff members as well as two senior counsel.
Approximately €60,000 was paid by Blaydon Limited, an Isle of Man company owned by Mr O’Brien, to Trusted Data Solutions (TDS), an American company based in Wales, according to Ian Drennan, Director of the Offcie of Corporate Enforcement.
Former INM chairman and O’Brien associate Leslie Buckley told the ODCE that he gave TDS access to the INM networks as part of a “cost-reduction exercise” so he could “find out more detail about the awarding by INM of a professional services contract”.
But Mr Drennan, in his affidavit, writes:
“During the course of the data interrogation, INM’s data appears to have been interrogated and searched against the names of various individuals, including, amongst others, a number of INM journalists and two senior counsel.”
It is also alleged the data was accessed by at least six companies external to the media group.
INM’s Stephen Rae with European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker last month
“[I am] clearly concerned by the possibility as set out in an affidavit that journalists’ data may have been accessed.
We have always invoked a strict protection or ‘firewall approach’ to both our journalists’ research and sources to maintain the integrity of our journalism. We will look seriously at this new information to see what data, if any, may have been involved during this reported event in 2014.
At the same time we will continue to provide journalism of the highest standard as we keep our newspaper readers and online audience fully updated.”
INM editor-in-chief Stephen Rae, a member of a group investigating fake news for the European Commission, last night.
Pic via Independent