Sunday 23 July 2017

McCabe family to sue HSE and Tusla for damages over false sex abuse allegation

Sgt Maurice McCabe with his wife Lorraine. Photo: Barry Cronin
Sgt Maurice McCabe with his wife Lorraine. Photo: Barry Cronin
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

Maurice McCabe and his family are to pursue a High Court case for damages against the HSE and Tusla following the creation of a file containing false sexual abuse allegations against the Garda whistleblower.

Sgt McCabe, his wife Lorraine and their four children initiated proceedings earlier this week, alleging malicious falsehood, breach of privacy and breach of constitutional rights.

Reliefs are also being sought compelling the HSE and Tusla to provide information and documents to the family.

It is understood certain injunctions may also be sought as part of the proceedings.

The case was initiated on Wednesday, according to High Court records.

However, statements of claim have yet to be served.

The McCabe family is being represented by Sean Costello & Company Solicitors.

A counsellor working for the HSE's National Counselling Service contacted gardaí and Tusla in August 2013 after being made aware of an abuse allegation against Sgt McCabe.

Long-established principals dictate Sgt McCabe should have been informed of the allegation and given a reasonable opportunity to defend himself. However, this did not occur.

The following May, the counsellor informed Tusla that the accusation was the result of a clerical error. Tusla informed gardaí of the mistake.

However, the untrue sexual abuse claim remained on a Tusla file until at least January 2016 when a member of its staff, unaware there was no substance to it, contacted Sgt McCabe.

Apology

The Tusla file contained details of Sgt McCabe, his wife and his children and had been sent to gardaí.

Both Tusla and the HSE have issued apologies to the McCabes. However, the McCabes rejected the HSE apology.

They said the HSE statement in which the apology was issued was wrong and that information in it did not coincide with information released to the McCabes by Tusla under the Freedom of Information Act.

The HSE statement said that once the alleged error was discovered all proper procedures were taken by the HSE.

However, the McCabes said their freedom of information file showed the opposite.

The lawsuit was filed just two days after the Disclosure Tribunal, which will investigate claims of an alleged smear campaign against Sgt McCabe, opened at Dublin Castle.

The tribunal is currently seeking submissions from anyone with information about matters covered by its terms of reference.

Parties have until March 13 to make submissions and hand over any evidence they have to the tribunal, which is headed by Mr Justice Peter Charleton.

Irish Independent

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