Publican in payout row told he can't have fire film
Published 19/11/2011 | 05:00
A PUBLICAN suing his insurer over its failure to pay out after a fire on his premises has been told he cannot have CCTV footage or forensic reports related to the premises.
Seamus McLaughlin's Waterfront bar and restaurant on James Street, Moville, Co Donegal, was destroyed by fire on February 1, 2009.
His insurers, Aviva, failed to pay out on grounds including its belief that he was involved in setting fire to the pub in an attempt to claim the insurance.
Following an investigation, a garda file on the fire was sent to the DPP in May 2010.
But there has been no decision yet as to whether any charges will be brought.
Mr McLaughlin is suing Aviva Insurance (Europe) plc for €3m for failing to pay out on his insurance policy.
For the purposes of this civil action, he had sought the CCTV footage taken from the premises by gardai, and also the forensic report.
In February, he won a court order requiring gardai to hand over the material. However, following an appeal, this order was overturned in the Supreme Court yesterday.
The Garda Commissioner had claimed the material was "privileged" -- that it could not be disclosed until a decision had been made by the DPP on whether to bring charges in relation to the fire.
The commissioner had argued that the privilege claimed was not permanent and would only last until the DPP decided whether there would be a prosecution.
Mr McLaughlin said that the commissioner's argument could not stand because Aviva had been in possession of this material for the last year and a half and had used it in its defence to his action.
In her Supreme Court judgment yesterday, the Chief Justice, Mrs Justice Susan Denham, said she was satisfied that the material in question should not be handed over because it was privileged and it was part of a criminal investigation and relevant to a prosecution.
She directed that the items must not be handed over until a decision is made on whether to prosecute.