Tag Archives: INM

From top: Crime journalist Paul Williams (centre), of the Irish Independent, and Det Supt John O’Reilly attending the Disclosures Tribunal last Summer

Further to the release of the Disclosures Tribunal report yesterday,

Justice Peter Charleton took time in his report to concentrate on the work of journalist Paul Williams, of the Irish Independent.

Mr Williams wrote several articles about Ms D and her 2006 “dry humping” allegation against Sgt Maurice McCabe in April and May 2014 – after interviewing Ms D in March 2014.

The central focus of the series of articles was Ms D’s unhappiness with the Garda investigation into her 2006 complaint, which was carried out by Supt Noel Cunningham.

In 2007, the DPP ruled that there was no basis for any prosecution in regards to Ms D’s complaint and Judge Charleton, having read Supt Cunningham’s investigation report, repeatedly told the tribunal that his investigation was “a model of efficiency and fairness”.

Mr Williams didn’t name Sgt McCabe or Ms D but many witnesses at the tribunal said they knew the articles were about Sgt McCabe.

Sgt McCabe himself told the tribunal he knew they were about him and received phone calls from people relaying the same.

The provenance of Mr Williams’ articles came about via Det Supt John O’Reilly, a friend of Mr Williams, who was the conduit for contact between Mr D and Mr Williams.

Det Supt O’Reilly knew Mr Williams through work as Mr Williams, Judge Charleton noted, “had spent a considerable time under police protection”.

Det Supt O’Reilly was a family friend of the D family for many years.

The tribunal heard differing evidence from Mr D and Det Supt O’Reilly as to who suggested to whom that Ms D talk to Mr Williams – after Irish Mail on Sunday journalist Debbie McCann and Irish Sun journalist Eavan Murray had called to the D house – but the judge found:

“The tribunal does not accept that any idea about talking to the media or any idea as to a suitable person within the media came from anyone other than Mr D.”

Det Supt O’Reilly told the tribunal in evidence that he subsequently believed that his setting up of contact between Mr Williams and Mr D was “unwise”.

But Judge Charleton went further, finding:

“It did no service to anyone. It caused further and completely unjustified pain to Maurice McCabe and to his family. The right advice from Detective Superintendent O’Reilly would have been to leave matters that belong in the past to the past; that is even supposing that some event had occurred.

“It should be remembered that he was a policeman. Why did Detective Superintendent O’Reilly not support the integrity and thoroughness of his honest police inquiries? Why did he imagine that there could be anything wrong with the investigation?

“Given that a thorough investigation had been undertaken, and that over fifteen years had passed since the time of the alleged event, nothing positive could have come out of this. Nothing positive did come of it.”

Paul Williams eventually interviewed Ms D on March 8, 2014.

The tribunal accepted Mr Williams’ evidence that when he met Ms D in March 2014, he had not heard about the false rape allegation which had been erroneously created back in August 2013 and was, in March 2014, sitting in a cabinet file in TUSLA.

He only knew what Ms D told him which was the original 2006 allegation.

Mr Williams’ first article published on April 12, 2014, headlined “Girl wants new probe into alleged sex assault by Garda” detailed Ms D’s dissatisfaction with the 2006/2007 investigation, as she saw it.

Judge Charleton criticised Mr Williams for not including input or seeking any response from either Sgt McCabe or Supt Noel Cunningham, who investigated the 2006 complaint, for the article.

Judge Charleton found:

“Given the widespread nature of the rumours, it was clear to people who knew about the allegation that it referred to Maurice McCabe and alleged a poor investigation. Certainly, almost everyone who actually read these articles, whether in journalism or police work, put two and two together. There would also have been a not insignificant number of them in Garda Headquarters.”

On April 15, 2014, Ms Williams published a second article about Ms D.

Headlined “Alleged Garda sex victim wants to meet Martin”, it was about how Ms D wanted to meet Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin.

After this article, Mr Williams facilitated this meeting between Ms D and Mr Martin.

On April 16, 2014, his third artlcle headlined “FF leader to meet woman at centre of claims she was abused by Garda” was published.

And on April 30, 2014, Mr Williams collected Ms D from a train station and drove her to the Dáil where she met Mr Martin.

On May 3, 2014, a fourth article appeared headlined “Kenny to set up probe into Garda sex abuse claims”.

Mr Williams said this was based on him getting confirmation from Mr Martin’s office that a letter in relation to his meeting with Ms D had been passed on to the office of An Taoiseach.

Judge Charleton found:

“While it had been, this did not mean that An Taoiseach was proposing to do anything about it and so the article could, be described as speculative.”

And, again, Judge Charleton stated Mr Williams should have contacted either Sgt McCabe or those who were involved in the investigation of Ms D’s complaint in 2006/2007, saying:

“They would have constituted unwelcome attention in the shape of a clear identification of Maurice McCabe by those who were aware of the Ms D matter and the return of an allegation long since dealt with.”

Although Mr Williams did not make contact with either Sgt McCabe or Supt Cunningham before writing his series of articles, Mr Williams did speak with the then Garda press officer Supt Dave Taylor.

There was conflicting evidence given to the tribunal about their interaction.

Supt Taylor told the tribunal that Mr Williams, in March 2014, rang him up and said “guess where I am?” before telling Supt Taylor he was at the D household, that Sgt McCabe had ruined Ms D’s life and that he was going to write a damaging article about Sgt McCabe.

Supt Taylor claimed he passed this information on to then Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan and then Deputy Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan.

Mr Williams had denied this when he gave evidence and said he had asked Supt Taylor a set of questions about the Ms D case and was told by Supt Taylor that “the investigation had taken place, a file has been sent to the DPP and there were no charges”.

Judge Charleton accepted Mr Williams’ evidence and rejected that of Supt Taylor, saying:

There would not be the slightest reason for Paul Williams to curry some kind of favour with the Garda Press Office by gleefully announcing the news that bad news was imminent for Maurice McCabe. That does not fit with the evidence, or with the character, of Paul Williams.”

Ms D made a complaint about the investigation into her 2006/2007 allegation to the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission on April 29, 2014 – days before, unbeknownst to Ms D, the false rape allegation which was sitting in a cabinet file in TUSLA was randomly plucked out and circulated to An Garda Síochána and eventually presented as a true allegation to the then Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan.

It remained in Garda HQ until February 2017.

The tribunal heard that the idea of making a complaint to GSOC was something Ms D had discussed with Mr Williams during their interview in March 2014.

But, Judge Charleton found “he [Williams] did not in any way or at all lead her into making this further complaint”.

Mr Williams was one of the 12 journalists whom Supt Taylor claimed he “negatively briefed” against Sgt McCabe.

As mentioned above, Judge Charleton accepted Mr Williams evidence – that Supt Taylor told him that a complaint had been made, a file went to the DPP and there were no charges – but did not find that Supt Taylor “negatively briefed” Mr Williams.

Judge Charleton found:

“While Superintendent Taylor claims, in typically laconic form used in relation to any evidence that might have supported his claims, that he briefed Paul Williams negatively against Maurice McCabe, no details of this, as usual, were supplied and the tribunal does not believe him.”

Meanwhile…

Dublin City University professor Colum Kenny

On March 2, 2014 – just over a month before Mr Williams’ first article on Ms D and days before Mr Williams first met Ms D – journalist and Dublin City University professor Colum Kenny wrote an article in the Sunday Independent about Sgt McCabe and how he had been wrongly blamed for the disappearance of a seized computer central to a sex abuse case.

In the article, he made the following reference to the Ms D allegation:

“It is understood that Sgt McCabe has also been subjected to a serious accusation by a senior garda that was subsequently referred by gardai to the DPP, who found no basis on which to pursue the matter.”

When Mr Kenny gave evidence to the tribunal, he indicated that when sending the March 2 article for publication to the Sunday Independent, he had sent a document to INM’s lawyers outlining the DPP’s full directions against Sgt McCabe in order to verify what he was writing.

The tribunal didn’t specifically hear what this document was or specifically to whom it was sent or even specifically when it was sent.

Mr Kenny wasn’t asked these details.

Judge Charleton made no comment on this document in his report.

The report can be read in full here

Yesterday: Legal Coffee Drinker: Charleton Report – Conclusions

Justice Charleton On...

Previously: Maurice McCabe And INM: Part 1

Maurice McCabe And INM: Part 2

I Told INM Maurice Was Innocent

Rollingnews

Independent House on Talbot Street, Dublin 1

The Irish Examiner reports:

The media group Independent News and News (INM) says it will not appeal a ruling to appoint inspectors by the corporate watchdog.

It means inspectors from the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) can take up their duties from today.

Costs were also awarded in favour of the ODCE.

INM not to appeal High Court ruling to appoint ODCE inspectors (Irish Examiner)

Yesterday: Legal Coffee Drinker: A Serious Judgement Call

On his RTÉ Radio One show this morning, Seán O’Rourke managed to not ask Irish Independent editor Fionnan Sheahan about yesterday’s High Court decision yesterday to allow inspectors from the Office of the Director Corporate Enforcement into the paper’s parent company.

The bias.

It never stops.

Good times

Yesterday: An Inspector Calls

From top: Conor O Mahony of the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE): INM CEO Michael Doorly (left) leaving the High Court this afternoon

The High Court has granted the appointment of inspectors from The Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement to Independent News and Media

They may be some time.

This afternoon.

The High Court, Dublin

In a 76-page judgement, President of the High Court, Mr Justice Peter Kelly has approved the application by the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement [ODCE] to appoint inspectors to Independent News and Media [INM], publishers of the Irish Independent, Sunday Independent and Evening Herald.

In its application, the ODCE alleged there was a culture of deference towards INM’s major shareholder, Denis O’Brien, and it had a suspicion the affairs of the company were interfered with for his benefit.

More as they get it.

High Court Appoints Inspectors To INM (RTÉ)

Earlier: Inmcoming

Rollingnews

Update:

To the shredders!

Independent News and Media CEO Michael Doorly

President of the [High] Court Mr Justice Peter Kelly will give his decision [today] on the application by the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement [to appoint inspectors to the company] which was strongly opposed by INM.

The ODCE described its application to have inspectors appointed to INM as unusually strong.

It said it was concerned INM’s affairs had been conducted in an unlawful manner for an unlawful purpose.

It alleged there was a culture of deference towards INM’s major shareholder, Denis O’Brien, and it had a suspicion the affairs of the company were interfered with for his benefit….

More as we get it.

ODCE application to have inspectors appointed to INM (RTÉ)

Rollingnews

Former head of the Workplace Relations Commission Kieran Mulvey

Independent News and Media PLC announces that Mr. Kieran Mulvey has been appointed as a non-executive director of the company with effect from today.

Mr Mulvey has been nominated to the board by Mr Denis O’Brien, the company’s largest shareholder and, accordingly, the board has determined that Mr Mulvey should not be considered to be independent on application of the independence criteria set by the UK Corporate Governance Code.

INM is currently actively engaged in securing a further candidate for appointment to the board to restore compliance with the board constituent provisions of the code. The company hopes to make a further announcement in this regard in the coming months.

From a statement released by Independent News and Media this afternoon.

Meanwhile…

On August 5 last.

Mark Tighe, in The Sunday Times, reported:

A row has blown up between Independent News & Media (INM) and Denis O’Brien, the publisher’s largest shareholder, over the composition and size of the company board.

O’Brien, who owns 29.9% of INM through his holding company Baycliffe, wrote to the publisher on June 12 to say he wanted to nominate Kieran Mulvey, a former head of the Labour Relations Commission (now the Workplace Relations Commission) to its board.

Baycliffe has since complained that Mulvey has been “messed around” by delays in the appointing him.

INM insists that any new O’Brien appointment must be “paired” with a new independent director so as not to affect the current balance on the company’s board. It has also expressed concern about INM’s board becoming too large.

INM and O’Brien in board nominee dispute (Mark Tighe, The Sunday Times, August 5, 2018)

Read the statement in full here

Rollingnews

Jody Corcoran

There are two issues which give rise for concern. First, the reaction on social media to Donnelly’s decision should be ignored by all right-thinking people. Social media is an uninformed sewer…

Donnelly’s choice, Howlin’s radicalism and the legacy of Enda Kenny (Jody Corcoran, Sunday Independent, February 17, 2017)

It was at this point that the reaction went into overdrive: So, who was really responsible for this anyway? Have a look at the open sewer that is social media

Jody Corcoran: Shrill voices raining down on heads of the homeless (Jody Corocran, Sunday Indpendent yesterday)

Reg writes:

Does Jody not realise he is working at INM?

FIGHT!

Pic via Independent.ie

The reception of Independent News and Media offices on Talbot Street, Dublin 1

Mark Paul, in The Irish Times, reports:

“Independent News and Media (INM) has recruited Deloitte for yet another investigation into an alleged major data breach at the newspaper publisher.

“It has also threatened outside IT experts, recruited under the supervision of former chairman Leslie Buckley, that it will sue them unless they co-operate, according to court papers.

“…Mr Buckley is refusing to meet the Deloitte investigators. In letters to INM’s legal advisers McCann Fitzgerald, Mr Buckley’s lawyers cite his anger at a letter sent by INM to the so-called INM 19, who were among those whose data was searched.

“That letter, his lawyers say, appears to blame Mr Buckley for “unauthorised” access to INM’s data.”

INM threatens to sue experts who ran data ‘interrogation’ (Mark Paul, The Irish Times)

Yesterday: There Were Discussions With Dee Forbes About ‘Getting Stephen A Job At RTE’

Previously: Why Did You Pay To Have These People Hacked?

INM The Thick Of It

Clockwise from top left: Sgt Maurice McCabe and Michael McDowell; Fionnan Sheahan, Colum Kenny, Terry Prone, Ian Mallon, Tom Brady and Anne Harris.

On March 25, 2014, the morning after Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan’s resignation, Terry Prone wrote an opinion piece for the Irish Independent.

In her article, the public relations expert said there was no need for the commissioner to have fallen on the “whistleblower sword”.

Mr Callinan had resigned in the wake of multiple scandals within the force and for describing the actions of Garda whistleblowers Sgt Maurice McCabe and former Garda John Wilson as “disgusting” at a Public Accounts Committee (PAC) hearing.

What Mr Callinan could have done, Ms Prone suggested, was simply talk the clock down with endless detail and strictly adhere to answers that fall within PAC’s own narrow remit.

Mr Callinan’s second mistake was not grasping what being a whistleblower meant in 2014.

According to Ms Prone:

“He [Mr Callinan] may not have understood, for example, that the minute the title whistleblower is publicly put on someone, they acquire a new role in society and a new status to match.

They are newly impregnable. They develop a sort of double-whammy credibility; if someone impugns their assumed virtue, the accuser will be disbelieved.

But even if it is provable that the whistleblower has the odd flaw, it doesn’t matter. What matters are the accusations and the stories they generate.”

Ms Prone would soon be advising Mr Callinan’s acting replacement Noirin O’Sullivan while also at the same time, as is her wont, advising Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald.

Ms Prone’s assessment became a blueprint for Ms O’Sullivan’s public relations strategy in the next two years concerning both Sgt McCabe and the Public Accounts Committee.

Never again would a Commissioner trip up like this again.

Garda management would, from now on, openly praise Sgt McCabe without reservation.

And PAC appearances by Ms O’Sullivan would become contemptuous studies in futility.

Sgt McCabe was offered a job to help oversee the new penalty points system brought about because of his efforts.

Ms O’Sullivan in the words of one impressed journalist, had “metaphorically put her arm around” Sgt McCabe.

Meanwhile, It would be left to Garda lawyers and certain journalists to do what was necessary to cast doubt around Sgt McCabe,

And it worked, for a while.

But the contrast between Ms O’Sullivan’s show of jovial warmth and Sgt McCabe’s reality within the force proved too great.

The sheer magnitude of spin was unsustainable.

When it emerged that Ms O’Sullivan’s legal team had been instructed to attack Sgt McCabe’s motivation and integrity during the O’Higgins Commission, the narrative collapsed.

Ms O’Sullivan, along with Ms Fitzgerald, would fall to the “whistleblower sword” as a result.

The first mention of Sgt Maurice McCabe in the Irish Independent came following Martin Callinan’s appearance before PAC on Thursday, January 23, 2014.

This was the occasion when Mr Callinan described the behaviour of Sgt McCabe and former Garda John Wilson as “disgusting”.

Mr Callinan’s appearance was covered by Irish Independent Security Editor Tom Brady and its then Public Affairs Editor Shane Phelan.

There was an analysis of Mr Callinan’s performance by Mr Brady and a humorous sketch of events by Lise Hand, plus an editorial by the paper’s then editor Claire Grady.

However, Mr Callinan’s ”disgusting” remark was mentioned only once, in the seventh paragraph of Mr Brady and Mr Phelan’s article, which stated without direct quotes:

He [Martin Callinan] described the behaviour of the two whistleblowers as disgusting in opting to make unsubstantiated allegations of corruption and criminality against senior colleagues in a public forum.

However, Sgt McCabe never alleged corruption or criminality against senior officers.

On day seven of the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation, Chief Supt Terry McGinn, who first investigated Sgt McCabe’s allegations, gave evidence  about the nature of Sgt McCabe’s complaints.

Shief Supt McGinn said:

“In relation to Sergeant McCabe’s complaint, he particularly told me… that his complaints were not against Garda sergeants, his complaints were against Garda management and their failure to, and I summarise it here, I have other words, as I was exploring what Sergeant McCabe said to me. And he said:

‘In all of my statements and exhibits, my purpose was to highlight poor standards, poor work practices and failure by Garda management to address these issues. I am also concerned at the service provided by the Gardaí to the public. I am not alleging corruption or criminality by any members or nor have I any evidence to support this allegation‘.”

The Irish Independent‘s coverage focused on Mr Callinan’s attempts to stop Sgt McCabe from appearing before the committee the following week.

Mr Brady, in his analysis, wrote:

‘While committee members may genuinely believe they can assist in establishing the veracity of the allegations it is easy to understand why Mr Callinan should be concerned that a serving member of the force [Sgt McCabe] be allowed to hurl serious allegations of criminality against senior officers who are not there to defend themselves.’

Mr Brady added:

“He [Mr Callinan] is right in his interpretation of the move that it could seriously undermine discipline in the force if every member felt it was possible to run to a Dáil committee with a grievance.”

Dublin City University professor Colum Kenny told the tribunal that, in early 2014, Mr Brady – and RTÉ’s crime correspondent Paul Reynolds – told him Sgt McCabe was being investigated for child sex abuse. (full report on RTE’s coverage of Maurice McCabe here)

Mr Kenny claims this conversation came about because he had approached them to ask why they weren’t asking questions about a computer which had gone missing from Garda custody – with the disappearance having been blamed on Sgt McCabe.

Mr Kenny said he felt Mr Brady and Mr Reynolds were telling him to “cop himself on” and to “not take Sgt McCabe at face value”.

The professor also claimed the two journalists encouraged him to go and talk to gardai “up there”, which Mr Kenny took to mean gardai in Cavan/Monaghan.

Mr Kenny said the two journalists definitely did not indicate that the child sex abuse allegation was the Ms D allegation of 2006 which had been categorically dismissed by the DPP in 2007.

Mr Reynolds, who knew of the Ms D allegation and the DPP’s directions in 2013, and Mr Brady, who also heard of the Ms D allegation and the DPP’s directions in 2013, say they never had such a conversation with Mr Kenny.

Mr Brady did recall one time that he spoke about Sgt McCabe with Professor Kenny.

He said this was at a pensions protest meeting in the Alexander Hotel, Dublin in November 2016 – at which point the protected disclosures of both Sgt McCabe and Supt Taylor would have been reported upon.

Mr Brady said:

“I had a discussion with him, most of that discussion centred on the pensions and then we went on to talk about my career, had I retired, what I was doing then. I told him and he mentioned Sergeant McCabe, he said something about either had contacted him or was going to contact him.

“I said I’d written nothing about Sergeant McCabe from a personal viewpoint, that any stories I did was to do with the fallout from what Sergeant McCabe had said and the various stories that arose from it.

“On a personal basis, I had written nothing other than at one stage I checked out a rumour about sexual abuse allegations made against him, and I established that that was historic, that had taken place in 2006 and that it had been fully investigated with the Gardaí, a file to the DPP and the DPP rejected it all.

“And that was as much as I knew about it and I didn’t do anything else in connection with that or in connection with Sergeant McCabe, whom I have never spoken to either in person or I have never phoned.”

Michael McDowell SC, for Sgt McCabe, asked Mr Brady about his knowledge of his colleague Paul Williams’ articles about Sgt McCabe and Ms D in April and May 2014 [full report on this in Part 1].

Mr Brady said he was aware “from talk in the newsroom” that Mr Williams was working on “some story” but that, at the time, he wasn’t sure “what exactly it was”.

Mr McDowell asked Mr Brady if he was consulted – given he had heard about the Ms D allegation in 2013, checked it out and satisfied himself that the DPP dismissed the matter – by his editorial staff in March/April/May 2014 about the decision to publish Mr Williams’ articles.

Mr Brady said no.

Asked if he was “surprised” when the Irish Independent ran the series of articles, Mr Brady said

“No, I wasn’t surprised. I’d heard the story was being done.”

Mr McDowell and Mr Brady then had this exchange:

McDowell: “We have heard from Mr [Ian] Mallon [former Group News Editor at INM] that in 2014 the Ms D allegation was widely spoken about in the Irish Independent or in INM at the time, I’m just trying to work out how you fit into the scene, knowing what you say you knew about the matter, how a story of that kind was published in those circumstances?”

Brady: “Well, I wasn’t involved at all. Nobody asked me to get involved, so I didn’t. Paul Williams worked mainly outside the newspaper, he worked on his own, he worked on quite a lot of stories, he was working on the Anglo tapes and I wasn’t involved in any of his stories.”

McDowell: “Yeah. I mean, without seeming to flatter you or cajole you in any way, I think you had a very strong reputation as a person who wrote with some degree of authority on matters to do with security in An Garda Síochána at the time, would you agree with that?”

Brady: “Well, I have a lot of experience perhaps of this.”

McDowell: “Yes. And it was generally believed that if you wrote something, it was well sourced and well regarded as likely to come from close to the top in An Garda Síochána rather than relying on station gossip and things like that?”

Brady: “Well, my practice was to go as high as I could in relation to any story, Chairman.”

McDowell: “Yes. And I’m just trying to work out, in those circumstances, you having checked it out and you having satisfied yourself there was nothing in it, how your newspaper decided to run a story which is — which was trailing a coat, so to speak, for the Ms. D allegation?”

Brady: “Well, I don’t think there was anything in the story that conflicted with the little bit of information that I had. It didn’t suggest that there was something to the allegation or suggest that…”

McDowell:Well, I understood you to say that the DPP had dismissed it, and that wasn’t simply a phrase which includes was unhappy with the evidence, it’s more than that; the DPP had said there was effectively nothing in it?

Brady: “Nothing in it, yeah, no crime.

McDowell:” And then how was it newsworthy that an allegation of no substance was or was not properly investigated?”

Brady: “Well, it wasn’t my decision, it was based on whatever Paul Williams had established from his inquiries and I was not privy to what exactly he had.”

McDowell: “Are you surprised that you weren’t consulted…”

Brady: “No.”

McDowell: “…in relation to the publication of this story?”

Brady: No, Chairman, no.

Then they later shared this exchange:

McDowell: I”‘m suggesting to you that the decision to publish the Williams stories, the articles, was in the circumstances one which revisited an issue which you had investigated and had found to have no substance whatsoever in it?

Brady: “Unfortunately, I wasn’t privy to all the information that was there. Obviously all the information that Paul Williams and perhaps others had gathered wouldhave been considered before a decision was taken. I was never consulted, I was not asked to any of the meetings, and without being privy to all the information that they had, I can’t really say.”

While the daily paper published Mr Williams’ articles about Ms D and increasingly favourable coverage of Ms O’Sullivan, the group’s Sunday edition highlighted Sgt McCabe’s version of events and his struggle to be heard.

Anne Harris, then Sunday Independent editor, told the tribunal that she first heard of the Ms D allegation from a freelance journalist at an editorial meeting in May, 2013 following a major story in her paper on the penalty points scandal.

Ms Harris said:

… I used my own sources and I set about inquiring what — if this had ever reached any sort of further currency or further — if there had been anything further on it, and I discovered that the DPP had looked into it and had discovered that this matter had been groundless.

So I was satisfied with this and I was more than happy to continue with the, with just proper, appropriate and prominent coverage of Sergeant Maurice McCabe’s concerns.”

In September 2014, following an editorial meeting, Ms Harris said Fionnan Sheahan, then group political editor, raised the matter.

Ms Harris said:

“At the end of the conference, towards the end of September, everybody had left, he’d gone out the door, he turned back, came to the office and said, because the last conversation had been about, at the conference, had been about Sergeant Maurice McCabe and he said he’s a paedophile, McCabe’s a pedophile. And I was — I was shocked.”

Mr Sheahan, now editor of the Irish Independent, denied this in the strongest terms.

He said the charge did not stand up against the work he did around the Maurice McCabe story and disputed it was even something that he would ever say.

Mr Sheahan challenged Ms Harris on a specific time and date and questioned whether he was in the country when the comment was alleged to have been made.

He said Ms Harris was driven by a grudge against him and certain editors that had begun when Denis O’Brien ousted Tony O’Reilly as INM’s largest shareholder.

Mr Sheahan said he heard about the Ms D allegation in ‘2013 going into 2014’.

Asked by Darren Lehane BL, for Anne Harris, why he had not pursued the veracity of the allegation then, Mr Sheahan said:

“I have national media awards sitting on my desk because I pursued stories as a journalist which started off with basic hard facts.

So I know the difference between gossip, rumour, innuendo and ephemera and actual hard facts that are verifiable and can be chased down and put out there into the national media…”

In a letter to the tribunal before his appearance, Mr Sheahan had actually instructed lawyers for INM to threaten defamation proceedings against Ms Harris.

However, Mr Sheahan was reminded during the tribunal that statements made at the tribunal are protected under privilege, which is itself protected in the constitution, as his paper’s majority shareholder recently discovered.

Mr Lehane asked Mr Sheahan:

“So you’re saying that Ms. Harris is abusing this Tribunal, established at great cost to the taxpayer, to ventilate a private grudge against you?

Mr Sheahan responded:

Yeah, I’m basically saying that. I also think she is quite confused, because she can’t actually specify when exactly she claims these comments were made…”

Ms Harris said she bore no ill will or grudge toward Mr Sheahan and admired, in particular, his political journalism.

Asked why she couldn’t specify a date when the alleged remark was made, Ms Harris said she believed it was late September, 2014 and could only “date it to my recollection of matters associated with it”.

In this way she recalled a moment involving Mr Sheahan prior to the alleged remark.

Ms Harris said:

“It might sound ephemeral and inconsequential to the Tribunal, Chairman, but I’ll mention it because it is an associative thing for me as I said. 

A measure of how well I got on with Fionnan Sheahan at that time was, he had an idea for a feature.

Now, features were nowhere near his interests, but he’d suggested a feature on men marrying up, and he said it’s a new phenomenon, men marrying up, George Clooney has married up, Amal, she’s a great kind of catch for George Clooney.”

Allowing for rare levity in a grim module, Justice Charelton intervened.

Charleton: “Do you mean men marrying women who are much more intelligent than they are?”

Harris: “…Exactly, that is the point he was making, you’ve got it, Chairman.”

Charleton:“I did that.”

Ms Prone, for her part, has fared better than most out of this scandal.

In September 2015, her company The Communications Clinic secured the media training contract for all senior gardai.

Between June and November 2016 alone, it was paid €92,955 for this service.

A Garda spokesman said:

“Media training programme for senior officers and managers enables An Garda Síochána to provide more spokespeople to the media in order to keep the public informed about how An Garda Síochána prevents and tackles crime.”

He added that 100 officers had availed of the training.

Tomorrow: Maurice McCabe And Associated Newspapers Ireland

Yesterday: Maurice McCabe And INM: Part 1

Maurice McCabe And RTE

Maurice McCabe And The Irish Times

Maurice McCabe And The Irish Times: Part 2

Maurice McCabe And The Sunday Times

Pics: RollingNews

Denis O’Brien (right) with former INM chairman Leslie Buckley

Today.

The legal team for the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement began making it’s application to the High Court for inspectors to be appointed to Independent News and Media.

It’s understood Brian Murray SC, for the ODCE, will continue making his submission tomorrow morning.

It follows claims in April that computer specialists which monitored the networks of INM, without the knowledge of the company’s board, were paid by a Denis O’Brien-owned company, according to claims in an affidavit filed in the High Court by the ODCE.

The ODCE said it uncovered emails containing a list of names which were to be searched for in the ‘data interrogation’.

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, of the ODCE.

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”.

Further to this…

Orla O’Donnell, of RTE, reports:

“Mr Murray [Brian Murray SC, for the ODCE] told High Court President Mr Justice Peter Kelly that the board of INM had believed Mr Buckley’s explanation that the data interrogation related to a “cost reduction exercise” concerning a contract with INM’s then solicitors.

“But he said the board was now saying that if what the Director of Corporate Enforcement is alleging is true, then the board was misled by Mr Buckley about the circumstances and purpose of the interrogation.

“Mr Murray said the board of a public company was now declaring that it was “hoodwinked” or lied to by its chairman in relation to matters of critical importance to its business.

“He asked how that could stand without some form of investigation. And if the board had been hoodwinked about this issue, the question of what else it had been hoodwinked about, became critical.

“Mr Murray said it was concerning that INM was claiming the issues were a small number of historic events which were individual and isolated.

“He said they were bound together by common features – Mr Buckley, Mr O’Brien and an actual or proposed act intended to confer an advantage on Mr O’Brien at the expense of the company as a whole.”

ODCE application to have inspectors appointed to INM (RTE)

Previously: Life’s A Breach

‘I Heard Nothing Whatsoever From INM’

Rollingnews