Sunday 24 September 2017

Former Dairygold CEO Jerry Henchy reaches settlement over termination of €580,000 job

Former Dairygold CEO Jerry Henchy
Former Dairygold CEO Jerry Henchy

Tim Healy

A SETTLEMENT has been reached in a legal dispute between former Dairygold CEO Jerry Henchy and the society over the termination of his €580,000 a year position almost five years ago.

He has not worked since.

As part of the settlement, statements were read to the High Court in which Dairygold said any suggestion that the termination of Mr Henchy's services as CEO arose from financial impropriety or wrongdoing "was and is without foundation".

"Dairygold reaffirms that the reason for the termination of his services as CEO was not as a result of any financial impropriety or wrongdoing on his part," it was stated.

For his part, Mr Henchy "confirms that the board, in coming to the decision to terminate his services as CEO, acted in good faith and without malice towards him", it was also stated to the court.

The statements were read after Tim O'Leary SC, for Mr Henchy, told Mr Justice Daniel Herbert he was glad to tell the court the case had settled and could be struck out without any further order.

Mr Justice Herbert said he would make that order and also discharge all intervening orders.

Mr Henchy was not in court but, in a statement provided by his solicitor, StJohn Dundon of Dundon Callanan solicitors, said he was "delighted with the outcome of the case and that his good name and reputation have also been fully vindicated".

The statement also said Mr Henchy "looks forward to the future and wishes to thank his legal team for their work on his behalf".

The proceedings began last July but were adjourned due to the court vacation before resuming before Mr Justice Daniel Herbert last month.

They were entering their 19th day yesterday when the settlement was announced. It followed discussions between the sides last week.

Mr Henchy (48), a father of three from Kilmallock, Co Limerick, had sued Dairygold Co-operative Society Ltd over the alleged termination in January 2009 of his job.  He sued for some €8m damages alleging his employment as CEO was wrongfully terminated for “spurious” reasons purporting to relate to some €159,000 being owed on his personal farm account with Dairygold.

The "real reason" arose as a result of an orchestrated campaign involving the company’s chairman Vincent Buckley and others, he had claimed.

The damages claim included a claim for alleged defamation arising from the alleged leaking to the media of the January 19, 2009, minutes of meetings of the Dairygold board and of its audit committee. That alleged leaking, it was alleged led to reports suggesting his employment was terminated due to misconduct and financial irregularities.

After a board meeting, Dairygold wrote a letter to Reox Holdings plc, a related company,  terminating Mr Henchy's contract for services.

Reox then purported to make him redundant and he had to accept his position in Reox was rendered untenable by what happened in Dairygold, Mr Henchy claimed.

The consequence of the decisions by the Dairyghold board on January 19 and January 26, 2009, was to bring about a termination of his employment, it was claimed.

Dairygold denied the claims and pleaded there was an issue about Mr Henchy's farm account prior to January 2009. It also denied any leaking of board minutes.

In a statement released, Dairygold chairman Bertie O’ Leary said the conclusion of the proceedings enables the society to focus on its continued development and expansion.

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