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Sunday 21 September 2014

O'Donnell makes fresh bid for bankruptcy in UK

Shane Hickey London

Published 06/03/2013 | 05:00

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Brian and Mary Pat O'Donnell at the High Court in London

SOLICITOR Brian O'Donnell said yesterday that a series of documents he has submitted to the High Court in London should reverse a decision to deny him bankruptcy in the UK.

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In the latest chapter of a bid by the former property investor and his wife Mary Pat to be declared bankrupt in Britain, Mr O'Donnell (pictured right) yesterday detailed to the court a number of letters he had sent to his creditors which showed he was resident there in February of last year.

Just before Christmas, Judge Guy Newey rejected efforts by the couple, who once presided over a property empire worth €1bn, to be declared bankrupt in Britain.

Mr O'Donnell was said to have not been "a frank, or even a wholly truthful" witness and that their transfer from Ireland to Britain could not have been "sufficiently ascertainable by third parties".

In an attempt to overturn the decision, Mr O'Donnell – representing himself and his wife in court – said letters to third parties such as Anglo Irish Bank and Ulster Bank showed that they knew he was based in London in February of last year.

Under rules in the UK, people seeking bankruptcy need to show that their 'Centre of Main Interest' – where their business is done – is there for at least the previous six months.

The O'Donnells say their business interests moved to the UK in 2007 and they made the full move themselves at Christmas 2011.

"In the industry we worked in, all of the banks knew that we were London-based," Mr O'Donnell said yesterday.

Formerly one of Ireland's most high-profile corporate solicitors, he said he had not had a practising certificate since 2011 and was not a member of the Law Society. He also claimed that the substantial media coverage surrounding his affairs showed that they lived in London and any reasonably diligent search would find where they were based.

Mr O'Donnell blamed the omission of the documents from his bankruptcy hearing last year on his legal team at the time.

He denied that the new evidence was a "desperate attempt" at hearing the case again and said he believed the High Court would have made a different verdict if the documents had been included.

Accusing the Bank of Ireland – who opposed the bankruptcy bid – of "unrestrained triumphalism" after the decision, he said he had been singled out by the bank. Counsel for the bank Gabriel Moss said that at no stage during the original case had Mr O'Donnell said he had the relevant documentation and that there were no "game changers" in what he had now presented to the court.

The new evidence, he said, carried very little in terms of weight, came nowhere near setting aside the original judgment and rejected assertions from Mr O'Donnell of there being the possibility of a miscarriage of justice.

Judge Newey is due to give his judgment in the matter this afternoon.

Irish Independent

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