Sunday 21 December 2014

FitzPatrick might apply for free legal aid, court told

Declan Brennan

Published 01/08/2014 | 02:30

Sean FitzPatrick
Sean FitzPatrick

FORMER Anglo Irish Bank chairman Sean FitzPatrick may apply for free legal aid for his upcoming trial on charges of failing to disclose loans from another bank, a court has heard.

Mr FitzPatrick (65) of Whitshed Road, Greystones, Co Wicklow, faces 12 counts of failing to disclose to auditors Ernst & Young the true value of loans worth at least €139m given to him or people connected to him, by Irish Nationwide Building Society from 2002 to 2007 while he was an officer of the bank.

Mr FitzPatrick's solicitor, Michael Staines, told Dublin Circuit Criminal Court his client will not be able to fund his upcoming case unless he is awarded his costs from a previous trial in which he was acquitted on all charges.

Last June, Judge Martin Nolan rejected an application for costs for that trial and yesterday Mr Staines told Judge Mary Ellen Ring that leave had been granted for a judicial review of the decision.

Mr Staines said the judicial review could take up to a year and he said in the meantime his client cannot afford to take on barristers.

"Mr FitzPatrick will not be able to fund his case unless he gets an order for costs in the other matter. My client may have to reluctantly apply for legal aid," he said.

He said the defence are seeking clarification from the Director of Public Prosecutions regarding the number of barristers she intends to use in the case and what she intends to pay them. Under the general principle of parity, defence counsel are paid the same as prosecution counsel.

Una Ni Raifeartaigh SC, prosecuting, had previously asked that the case be listed for mention to seek guidance from the defence regarding issues around disclosure from a third party.

Mr Staines said the reason the defence have not responded to the State's requests for guidance is that they have no counsel because of the issues around costs and legal aid. He said he cannot approach counsel until the State clarifies its position.

The solicitor said he may seek to have the trial adjourned if these issues cannot be resolved. The trial is set for February 2 next year with a pre-trial hearing scheduled for December 12.

Irish Independent

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