From top: Anne Harris; yesterday’s Sunday Times
The Disclosures Tribunal – which is examining allegations of a smear campaign against whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe – is to resume next Monday, April 30.
The evidence set to be given over the following couple of months is understood to largely involve journalists and media outlets.
Last June, the tribunal released a statement outlining some details of what certain people had told it at that point.
At the time, the tribunal said the former editor of the Sunday Independent Anne Harris told its investigators:
“In the years 2013 and 2014, matters raised by whistleblower Sergeant Maurice McCabe, such as the termination by senior gardaí of fixed penalty points, as well as allegations of murder and abductions not properly investigated, came to prominence.
From the first instance that the Sunday Independent began to report on these matters, certain journalists came to my office to warn me off Sergeant McCabe.
“I was given varying accounts of an alleged case of child sex abuse by him, which was apparently being investigated.
“This was repeated several times by a very reputable journalist, one who had shown great courage in exposing incidents of corruption and terrorism. I made enquiries and was satisfied that the matter had been investigated by the DPP, and the complaint found to be without grounds.
“The Sunday Independent continued to report on Sergeant McCabe’s concerns and the consequent treatment of him.
“In 2013, the allegation that Sergeant McCabe as a “paedophile” was stated in my office by senior executive from the wider “Group” editorial hierarchy of Independent Newspapers.
“I am certain that a whispering smear campaign was being conducted and that the media were being used.
“The pressure on me was less about publishing the sex abuse allegation – it would have been difficult within the laws of libel – but had the clear purpose of discrediting him, and therefore censoring the issues he was raising.”
Further to this…
In yesterday’s Sunday Times and in relation to Ms Harris’s statement to the tribunal…
Mark Tighe and John Mooney reported:
The INM editorial executive, who still works at one of the group’s newspapers, has told the tribunal that he does not recall making such a comment. He has attacked Harris’s motivation and accused her of being a disgruntled former editor.
…Harris told The Sunday Times she decided to name the editorial executive to Peter Charleton’s inquiry because its investigators had asked her to identify those who had passed on information about McCabe.
“When I subsequently considered the timing of the remark, I actually thought the editorial executive himself might be willing to provide useful information to the tribunal. He made this comment in late 2014. I have never shown any animosity towards this editorial executive. I genuinely thought he might have been willing to help the tribunal,” said Harris.
“I believe the protection of journalistic sources is paramount, except when they are being used to detract from a good man’s character. I believe that abuse of journalist privilege inspires no confidence in journalism.”
Former Garda press Officer Dave Taylor (left) with former Garda Commissioner Nóirin O’Sullivan in 2014
In yesterday’s Sunday Business Post…
Francesca Comyn reported:
“Former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan claims whistleblower David Taylor blamed Nóirín O’Sullivan for having him arrested and said he would “bring her down” because of what she had done to him.
“Callinan has made the claim in a statement to the Disclosures Tribunal. He alleges that after he retired as head of the force in May 2014, Supt Taylor visited him at home on several occasions and expressed anger and disappointment that O’Sullivan, who was commissioner at the time, transferred him from the Garda press office to the traffic division.
“…Billing records from her [former Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan’s] mobile phone will show numerous contacts between her and well-known crime and security journalists between July 2012 and May 2014 when she was deputy commissioner.
“She made 33 phone calls to well-known reporter Paul Williams including conversations lasting up to 20 minutes. The tribunal is expected to ask her to explain ten contacts made with Williams in February, March and April 2014.
“In March that year, Williams wrote two articles after interviewing Ms D, the daughter of the garda who made the sexual allegation against McCabe in 2006, later found by the DPP to be groundless.
“…The former commissioner’s phone records for the same time period show further media contacts. Over the 23-month period, she called RTÉ’s crime correspondent Paul Reynolds 20 times and Tom Brady, security editor with the Irish Independent, 74 times.”
Previously: Disclosures And Non-Disclosures