Tag Archives: Anne Harris

From top: Anne Harris, Gemma O’Doherty and Alison O’Reilly at Dublin Castle today

This afternoon.

Dublin Castle, Dublin 2.

Gemma O’Doherty, the journalist who was fired by the Irish Independent after she broke the story of then Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan’s penalty points being quashed, is currently giving evidence into the alleged smearing of Garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe.

Earlier, Anne Harris, former Sunday Independent editor claimed she was told that Sgt McCabe was a paedophile by Fionnan Sheahan, then political editor of the Irish Independent and presently its editor.

Alison O’Reilly, of the Irish Mail on Sunday, is expected to give evidence this afternoon.

Olga Cronin is live tweeting from the castle here.

More as we get it.

Earlier: Disclosures, Denials And The Journalists



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.”

Ex-INM editor Anne Harris was ‘warned’ about whistleblower Maurice McCabe (The Sunday Times, Mark Tighe and John Mooney)

Whistleblower: ‘I will bring her down’ (Sunday Business Post, Francesca Comyn)

Previously: Disclosures And Non-Disclosures


Stephen Rae (top) Group editor Of Independent Newspapers; Former editor of the Sunday Independent Anne Harris (below).

“One evening in November 2012 – a Monday, my day off – I was summoned to an “off-site” meeting. I had misgivings about attending. The previous Saturday, at edition time, there had been an attempt to pull a story about a statement issued by Transparency International Ireland, which had complained to a UN special rapporteur about O’Brien’s serial litigations against journalists.

“Accordingly, on alert, I asked if I should have somebody with me. No need, I was assured. The meeting was attended by two men, one of whom was a senior INM executive. Things were bad with the company, he said.

Certain “temporary measures” were necessary. Then we got to the core problem: O’Brien, the majority shareholder, was not to be written about in certain ways. Then he issued a specific directive: any reference to O’Brien was not to be handled by me, but was to be referred to the managing editor. When I pointed out that this was censorship, I was informed it was “sensitivity”. I later asked for the directive in writing, but was refused.

“I did get a series of emails which confirmed the directive but tried to revise what had transpired at the meeting. One ridiculously stipulated the stricture was to cover references to “all” INM shareholders (there are thousands); another said it applied to coverage of the three largest shareholders, O’Brien, Dermot Desmond and Tony O’Reilly.

Contact with O’Reilly elicited an immediate response: the stricture was “repugnant” to him. (I should add that in my three years as editor, the paper had no representations from Desmond.) At subsequent meetings with management, any pretence that the stricture was wider than O’Brien was dropped.

Contemporaneous with these meetings was the drawing up of a charter or code of practice for INM journalists with its infamous clause stipulating there could be no repeated, sustained, adversarial criticism of a person or organisation without the written permission of the managing editor. The charter eventually faded because a restructuring of the newspapers rendered it unnecessary.

“At one of these attritional meetings, I asserted that the managing editor did not outrank an editor. I was informed that an editor-in-chief would, and such a post could be created.

It was. On June 24, 2013, an editor-in-chief [Stephen Rae] was appointed, and within days the structure of the Sunday Independent was dismantled. From then on I never again held a meeting with my own staff that was not attended by persons with strange new titles taking notes furiously.

At the meeting to announce the appointment of the editor-in-chief I asked who, now, would make the decisions on coverage of O’Brien. I got no reply.

Copious correspondence asking the same question proved equally fruitless. But I did get an answer, a painful one, on July 19, 2014. In an article published in the early edition of the Sunday Independent, I referred to O’Brien and control of INM. Without reference to me, the editor-in-chief stopped the page and removed a crucial sentence.

I rang him to protest. The paper was delayed while we argued. In order to get the pages running again, several minor changes were negotiated. But I had no part in the removal of the crucial sentence. Did O’Brien have any knowledge of these events? I don’t know. I asked to meet him. I was told that wouldn’t happen.

Anne Harris, ex-editor of The Sunday Independent, in yesterday’s Sunday Times (behind paywall).

Previously: Continuity Rae

Denis O’Brien’s Editorial Interference: The Smoking Gun?

Screen Shot 2014-07-21 at 11.47.09 Screen Shot 2014-07-21 at 11.39.16

The  Sunday Independent early edition (top) and later editions (above)

The current edition of The Phoenix magazine claims that Sunday Independent editor Anne Harris has agreed early severance terms with Independent News and Media and will leave in October.

Yesterday’s Sunday Independent published an opinion piece by Ms Harris claiming that The Phoenix article was entirely incorrect, saying: ‘the whole story is a lie’.

However Ms Harris’ column in the  Saturday Night Edition of the Sunday Independent – which reaches shops in Dublin on Saturday night – was different the paper’s later edition – which usually reaches shops nationwide early Sunday morning. to wit:

Gavin Sheridan, of TheStory.ie, writes:

There was one critical paragraph that was substantially edited between editions (there are other changes too but I think this is the more significant). The early edition of the paragraph was written thusly (emphasis mine):
‘Since, as I pointed out earlier, none of this is true, I am clearly not the only one defamed. Denis O’Brien is the major shareholder in INM. In theory, with 29pc of the shares, he does not control it. In practice, he does.
But in the later edition of the paper, it said:
‘Since, as I pointed out earlier, none of this is true, I am clearly not the only one defamed. Denis O’Brien is the major shareholder in INM. In theory, with 29pc of the shares, he does not control it.’
I’m not sure this clearly significant change could be blamed on an over zealous sub-editor. The meaning of the entire paragraph has been altered. Why was the column changed and by whom? Was it done with the permission of the editor and author? Which column represents the truly held beliefs of that author? Surely it can’t be both?”


Why was this Anne Harris Sunday Independent column modified? (thestory.ie)

Thanks Gavin