Justice Charleton’s 20 Questions


Supreme Court Judge Peter Charleton


At the Disclosures Tribunal in Dublin Castle.

It heard from three witnesses – Tom Brady, former security editor of the Irish Independent; Fergus O’Shea, former deputy news editor of the Irish Sun; and Robert Cox, deputy editor of the Irish Mail on Sunday.

It’s understood, as things stand, these were the tribunal’s final witnesses.

However, Diarmaid McGuinness SC, for the tribunal, did say the tribunal’s legal counsel will have to review things and see if there is any other evidence they feel should be put before Judge Charleton and if there is any possible need to recall any witnesses to give further evidence.

The tribunal heard that, as of this afternoon, there has been no call by any legal team for anyone to be recalled.

Supreme Court Judge Peter Charleton also heard submissions from various legal parties in relation to journalistic privilege (see more below).

Before finishing today’s hearing, Judge Charleton listed 20 questions that he said the legal teams may wish to consider ahead of making submissions in relation to the final module.

Judge Charleton said he will meet with the tribunal’s legal team in the Four Courts on Monday morning and then may hear these submissions on Wednesday.

Judge Charleton’s questions were…

1. What kind of talk, communication or innuendo can fairly be said to come within the terms of reference? What is the full extent of any calumny or detraction against Maurice McCabe that should be regarded as proven as a matter of probability?

2. To what extent are political, journalistic and Garda rumours or talk necessarily to be considered?

3. Is there any truth in the protected disclosure of Superintendent Taylor? Is he a witness whose evidence in any respect can be accepted? Should it, as a matter of prudence, be subject to a corroboration/caution warning?

4. Is it possible to tell from a false denial, for instance, but not limited to Superintendent Taylor or to any journalist, that the opposite to an assertion is in fact the truth?

5. Is what Superintendent Taylor claims to have been done on behalf of Commissioner Callinan an understatement of the reality of what he in fact did? Did he do whatever he did at the behest of Commissioner Callinan or did he do it with the acquiescence or any knowledge by Deputy Commissioner O’Sullivan?

6. To what extent, if at all, is the account of Maurice McCabe as to what he was told by Superintendent Taylor reliable and accurate despite any contradiction by Michelle Taylor and Superintendent Taylor?

7. To what extent do Maurice McCabe’s reports of Superintendent Taylor in relation to phones or electronic devices influence Superintendent Taylor’s creditworthiness? Should a preference be made or what might be the effect of making a preference for Maurice McCabe’s protected disclosure?

8. Of what relevance are the allegations of Superintendent Taylor as to his phones and the seizures thereof? That includes all electronic devices.

9. Of what relevance are the allegations of Superintendent Taylor as to Commissioner O’Sullivan, Detective Superintendent McGowan, Chief Superintendent Clerkin and his false High Court application?

10. Why were the disciplinary proceedings against Superintendent Taylor withdrawn and what are the terms of that withdrawal and the termination of the High Court proceedings?

11. Is there any inference to be drawn from changes of phones, loss of computers or phones, or failures to remember pin numbers by Commissioner Callinan, Commissioner O’Sullivan or Superintendent Taylor? Is there any other phone or computer evidence of relevance?

12. To what extent, if any, can the allegations of John McGuinness TD, Philip Boucher-Hayes, Seamus McCarthy, Comptroller and Auditor General, and John Deasy TD be relied on, and even though merely guided by the rules of evidence and not bound by them, is this Tribunal in a position to say that they corroborate or support each other?

13. If these are to be believed or accepted as probable, what is the full extent of the allegation of calumny against Maurice McCabe? Is Superintendent Taylor reducing his role and if so, does this factor lessen or completely dissolve his credibility?

14. What led to the visits of Debbie McCann, Eavan Murray and Paul Williams to the home of Ms. D? In that regard, has journalistic privilege been properly and honestly relied on and is there any evidence proffered by these parties that is reliable? What in truth happened? Did the visits have any Garda inspiration?

15. To what extent, if any, does the evidence of the D family members remain relevant?

16. To what extent is any incorrect invocation of journalistic privilege such as to give rise to any inference, and if so, what inference does any incorrect invocation of journalistic privilege give rise to?

17. What is the relevance of question 5 as to any incorrect or dishonest invocation of journalistic privilege?

18. To what extent do journalistic clashes, seven of them now today, apart from that between Alison O’Reilly and Debbie McCann, require to be resolved or even recorded in a report to the Houses of the Oireachtas? And if so, Why?

19. To what extent does the Tribunal have to report on or comment on political involvement or the actions of any individual public representative?

20. Going through the terms of reference, the parties might be so kind as to precisely and concisely give an answer to what each party regards as having been supported by probable evidence.

After reading out his questions, Judge Charleton said:

“So, that is just an indication of thinking, it is no more than that. It may help, it may not.”

From today’s hearing…


The George Bernard Shaw line, quoted by Judge Charleton was that “the altar upon which Irish martyrs are consecrated is the gallows“.

Judge Charleton also included RTÉ’s crime correspondent Paul Reynolds and Tim Vaughan, former editor of the Irish Examiner, in respect of this point about martyrdom.

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20 thoughts on “Justice Charleton’s 20 Questions

  1. GiggidyGoo

    Hats off the Broadsheet for the coverage of this. Putting the other ‘award-winning’ ‘media’ to shame.

    1. shortforBob

      Hold your praise until Broadsheet can manage to avoid glaring spelling errors:

      alter is not the same as altar

        1. shortforBob

          In fairness it’s a spelling mistakes that spellcheck wouldn’t catch and the paper of record The Irish Times frequently makes all kinds of mistakes too.

          Muphry’s law, I’m probably going to make a spelling mistake while pointing out a spelling mistake.

          1. Frilly Keane


            Tis no. 11 that’ll decide what happens with or what will become of AGS

            And indeed the final outcome of this tribunal

  2. Sheik Yahbouti

    As I’ve said before – Dave Taylor going down. Having said that – Compliments to Charleton J. These are the salient questions (Apart from those that McDowell should face in relation to the O’Higgins enquiry).

      1. Sheik Yahbouti

        Yes, having said what I’ve said NOTHING can excuse the destruction of socks full of paper evidence and the ‘disappearance’ of an outrageous number of mobile phones and other devices. The whole thing STINKS to high heaven, and I’m sorry that Taylor the stupid dope will be the one to carry the can.

  3. Catherine costelloe

    There are some 24 “coincidences” not in favour of Maurice . ( maybe more).
    And what worked in his favour? Katie Hannon on Prime Time exposing the fact a file existed accusing an innocent man of raping a child. And a social worker writing to him in 2016 advising of a visit as his five children were “at risk” worked in his favour as it truly opened the truly awfulness of his situation . Disgusting shower no longer hide behind their ugly two faced facades.

  4. CoderNerd

    There was talk of a Patten style restructuring of the gardai before Francis Fitzgerald got her marching orders.
    Now another from within the ranks, Pat Leahy, is apparently en route to be made the next commissioner.

    If only one good thing comes from the tribunal, it’s that all available info is given to all members of the press.
    As it is, the gardai control this information for favoured journalists who won’t co-operate fully with the tribunal.
    These journalists then claim privilege in order to “preserve the free flow of information”,
    It’s a sickening joke and the Irish public pay for it.

    As long as the same structure and wall of silence within the “garda family” exists, nothing will change.
    Perhaps because they can’t recall in the first place. Apparently.

    1. Jackdaw

      Again comparing the Gardai to the old RUC is like chalk and cheese. Won’t work. Same old sound byte being trotted our by people with not the slightest idea what they’re talking about.

  5. Ciaran Adamson

    Excellent coverage btw Broadsheet.ie Question 11 is the key imo…I’m no forensic data bloke… but if this was a murder trial and the defendant said oh, I lost all my phones… would that be the end of it?… I think not… SIM cards from the network supplier, all documented somewhere and unless everyone in the whole department lost all their phones together … through a basic process of elimination, ie, who still has their phones, and detective work, ie policing…dates times of calls/ texts to who /from who etc., could be examined by eh, the Gardai…

  6. Emily Dickinson

    Congrats on the detailed coverage. It would put larger media groups to shame – if they had any.

    My tuppence worth is that Callinan is doodled. Too many credible witnesses contradicting him, including the likes of the C&AG. Taylor comes out of this very poorly, but the answer to Q10 above may cast some light on why that’s so.

    More generally, I can’t help feeling that the tribunal itself was unnecessary. The government could and should have acted years ago. That afternoon when the commissioner appeared before an Oireachtas committee, with his deputy at his elbow and the full weight of the organisation behind him, and publicly labelled his colleagues – serving officers – ‘disgusting’ was the very latest point at which action should have been taken. We didn’t need a tribunal to investigate whether he smeared McCabe because we all heard him do it. A competent minister would have cleaned stables at that point, if not long before.

    And as for the idea that the next most senior guy in the staffroom should replace Noirin, well, that just beggars belief.

  7. Cu Cullan

    I can’t decide if Charleton is playing a blinder or is just teeing up the whitewash. Only time will tell.

Comments are closed.

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