Sunday 24 September 2017

Lawyers for Anglo executives ‘fear media frenzy’ in trial

Sean FitzPatrick
Sean FitzPatrick

Dearbhail McDonald, Legal Editor

LAWYERS for three former Anglo Irish Bank executives have asked the Circuit Criminal Court to assign a judge to take control of their forthcoming trial amid concerns of a "media frenzy" and the need to secure disclosure of all necessary documents.

The trial of the bank's former chairman Sean FitzPatrick and two former directors was mentioned today in order to check on the progress of the case.

Mr Fitzpatrick (65) of Whitshed Road, Greystones, William McAteer (62) of Auburn Villas, Rathgar and Pat Whelan (51) of Coast Road, Malahide have been charged with 16 counts of allegedly providing unlawful financial assistance to individuals to buy shares in the bank.

This afternoon Judge Martin Nolan heard that the Director of Public Prosecutions supports the appointment of a dedicated judge ahead of the planned trial next January.

Una Ni Raifeartaigh SC, for the DPP said that the issue of publicity was also a concern for the prosecution.

Brendan Grehan SC, defending Mr Whelan, told Judge Martin Nolan that it was vital in the six month lead up to the trial that "calm be restored"

amongst the public from whom a future jury will be drawn.

"We simply cannot have  a fair trial take place where a media frenzy is whipping up a lynch mob mentality," said Mr Grehan.

Mr Grehan said that of greatest importance in terms of someone taking charge of the case, was “that in particular in the last five weeks, there has been quite an amount of general adverse media coverage directed against a category of persons that my client might fall into”.

Judge Nolan was told by Michael O'Higgins SC, for Mr FitzPatrick, that he was anxious for the trial to proceed in January and wants to retain his original trial date.

Mr O'Higgins said that Mr FitzPatrick has "very serious concerns" about publicity but would only seek to have his trial delayed on that basis as "a last resort".

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