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Saturday 23 August 2014

No justice in forcing FitzPatrick to pay legal bill, court told

Conor Gallagher

Published 06/06/2014 | 02:30

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Sean FitzPatrick
Sean FitzPatrick

A judge will rule later this month on whether the State must reimburse all or some of the legal costs of former Anglo Irish Bank chairman Sean FitzPatrick arising from his recent criminal trial.

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Mr FitzPatrick was acquitted last March of engaging in an illegal share support scheme.

His fellow Anglo directors Pat Whelan and William McAteer were convicted on 10 counts of providing illegal loans to the group of investors known as the Maple Ten to prop up the Anglo share price.

Mr FitzPatrick's counsel, Michael O'Higgins SC, told a court yesterday that his client was seeking the entire costs arising from the 48-day trial.

The defence team comprised of a two junior and one senior counsel as well a solicitor.

Mr O'Higgins described the legal bill as "enormous" but did not specify a figure.

Counsel asked where the justice would be "in letting Mr FitzPatrick leave the courtroom with his pockets bulging with a huge legal bill".

Mr O'Higgins said the case against Mr FitzPatrick was based solely on his answers in garda interviews.

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He said he co-operated fully with investigators. Mr O'Higgins said Mr FitzPatrick's legal team facilitated the prosecution in every way possible and "made all possible concessions" which considerably shortened the length of the trial.

He said that the case against his client was "extremely thin", adding that the Director of Public Prosecutions was entitled to bring extremely thin cases but was "not entitled to expect the citizen to carry the can" when those cases fail.

Responding for the State, Paul O'Higgins SC questioned whether Mr FitzPatrick – who was an undischarged bankrupt during the trial – was even liable for his legal costs.

He said that a requirement for the granting of costs was that the defendant actually had to bear those costs.

He questioned whether Mr FitzPatrick could have paid his legal team as an undischarged bankrupt.

Paul O'Higgins added that costs should not be awarded because of the public interest in bringing the prosecution.

"For this reason the appropriate order is that there should be no order (for costs)."

Mr FitzPatrick did not attend the hearing at Dublin's Circuit Criminal Court. Judge Martin Nolan said he will give his decision on June 23.

Irish Independent

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