Thursday 29 September 2016

Reporting restricted on Sean Fitzpatrick's application to prevent his trial

By Aodhan O Faolain and Ray Managh

Published 28/08/2015 | 17:31

Sean Fitzpatrick
Sean Fitzpatrick

THE High Court will rule tomorrow on former Anglo Irish Bank chairman Seán FitzPatrick's application to permanently prevent his trial before Dublin Circuit Criminal Court from proceeding.

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Mr FitzPatrick is facing a number of charges including making a misleading, false or deceptive statement to auditors and of furnishing false information from 2002 to 2007. 

The 66-year-old from Greystones, Co Wicklow, who has pleaded not guilty to 27 charges under the 1990 Companies Act, brought his application due to concerns over  what he claims is the large volumes of adverse media publicity he received following a recent, separate trial of three Anglo officials. His trial has been scheduled to begin on October 5th.

He has asked the High Court to make an order permanently prohibiting his trial or, alternatively, granting him an order quashing a decision of Circuit Court Judge Martin Nolan to refuse to adjourn the trial. 

The DPP has opposed the action and argues that the trial should proceed.

Today following legal submissions Mr Justice Michael Moriarty reserved his decision. He directed that certain matters and details raised during today's hearing not be published by the media pending his judgment. 

Barrister Bernard Condon SC for FitzPatrick told the court his client had been subjected to a level of odium and ridicule in the media to the extent he cannot now get a fair trial.

Mr Condon, who appeared with barrister Edward Doocey, said there had been a "cascade of negativity" in the media concerning  Mr FitzPatrick particularly following the trial of three Anglo officials which ended in July.  His character had been trashed and he had been called "every name under the sun".  The "air of vengeance" stoked up by the media had been extraordinary. 

Counsel said while the main focus of the application was to seek to permanently stop the trial from going ahead he said at the very least Mr FitzPatrick was entitled to an adjournment of 12 months. The DPP had given no good reason why the trial should go ahead in October.

Paul O'Higgins SC, who appeared with barrister Paul Anthony McDermott for the DPP, rejected claims that Mr FitzPatrick could not get a fair trial. 

It was the DPP's view with appropriate directions and warnings from the trial judge and a careful selection process in regard to potential members of the jury that there would be no reason why he would not get a fair trial. 

While it would be preferable that a trial take place in some sort of a vacuum, such circumstances were not possible.  It was accepted there had been a lot of unfavourable publicity about Mr FitzPatrick but none of it related to the matters on which he was facing trial.

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