Friday 31 October 2014

Ex-Rehab boss Angela Kerins seeks damages over "biased" treatment by PAC

Shane Phelan Public Affairs Editor

Published 21/07/2014 | 15:19

Ex Rehab boss Angela Kerins
Ex Rehab boss Angela Kerins

FORMER Rehab Group chief executive Angela Kerins was so "overwhelmed" she had to be hospitalised for ten days after being grilled by the Dail's spending watchdog, the Public Accounts Committee.

The claim was made as Ms Kerins was given leave to institute legal proceedings against the committee.

In a dramatic move, lawyers for Ms Kerins claimed in the High Court today that she had suffered personal injury, had lost her €240,000-a-year-job, and had her constitutional rights breached as a result of the conduct of the committee.

Ms Kerins, who retired early from the charity and commercial group in April, was not in court for the decision.

Her legal counsel, former Attorney General John Rogers SC, claimed in a lengthy statement that the committee had demonstrated on several occasions it was biased against her.

Mr Justice John Hedigan said the issued raised by Mr Rogers were "of profound significance".

Legal papers will now be served on the clerk of the Dail and the chief state solicitor and the matter will return to court in November.

The committee was not represented at the hearing, which was ex-parte, or one side only.  

Mr Rogers told the court Ms Kerins had been subjected to vicious and personal attacks by certain members of the PAC, both at a hearing she attended in February and at a later one in April, that she was too ill to attend.

As a result of this she had "a collapse in health" and was hospitalised from March 2 to 11.

He said her employment with Rehab "ceased" following discussions with officers of the group, on April 4.

"Ms Kerins has lost her job as a result of these events," he said, adding that the questioning by the committee had left her "overwhelmed".

Mr Rogers said: "We say that at this point it is clear the committee cannot proceed. We say that due to bias and misfeasance of public office this committee must be stopped. That is the purpose of the application."

The court also heard Ms Kerins was seeking:

an order prohibiting the PAC from further pursing the accounts of Rehab, insofar as they relate to her; an injunction restraining the committee from publishing any report which contains findings in relation to her or "in any way impugning her god name"; an order expunging the record of a committee hearing where comments were made about her; an order restraining the PAC from pursuing an application to compel her appearance before the PAC; a declaration that the inquiry is tainted by the bias of individual members of the committee.

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