State to pay Shatter’s legal costs over challenge to report on whistleblower claims
The State will have to pay former Justice Minister Alan Shatter’s legal costs following his successful challenge to a report on garda whistleblowing.
The former Fine Gael TD also received a declaration from the Court of Appeal that the conclusions of the report by barrister Sean Guerin in relation to him were reached in breach of fair procedure and natural justice.
Mr Shatter resigned as justice minister in 2014 after the report found he had failed to heed concerns raised by garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe.
But a commission of investigation, headed by Mr Justice Kevin O’Higgins, subsequently found Mr Shatter had dealt with the concerns appropriately.
Mr Shatter has blamed the report for the loss of his political office.
Ruling today, the court awarded him his costs, which could run to hundreds of thousands of euros.
But it put a stay on the order until it is clear whether or not the matter will be appealed to the Supreme Court.
Mr Shatter was not granted orders he had sought for the quashing of conclusions, that the quashing order be given to Taoiseach Enda Kenny, and that Mr Guerin amend his report and deliver it to the Taoiseach.
Instead the court said Mr Shatter’s lawyers could make other suggestions to the Government.
“There is no reason to suppose the State will not wish to vindicate Mr Shatter’s good name,” said the President of the court, Mr Justice Sean Ryan.
“One obvious mode of correction is by redacting the report and explaining in marginal notes or footnote that this was done in response to the judgment of the Court of Appeal in this case.”
Mr Shatter welcomed the ruling, but said he would be seeking for the report to be removed from the Oireachtas library and withdrawn from circulation.
“I am very pleased with the court’s decision,” Mr Shatter told Independent.ie.
“I am very pleased obviously to get an order for costs. I don’t believe I should have had to spend almost three years of my life doing battle in the court to establish that when there are allegations made against an individual they are entitled to be heard in defence of those allegations.”
Mr Shatter said that subsequent to a ruling of the Court of Appeal last November, the Guerin report had been removed by Taoiseach Enda Kenny from the Government’s website.
“That should have occurred, of course, a great deal earlier,” he said.
“But the report remains in circulation. It was laid before both Houses of the Oireachtas.
“In the controversy that occurred in the last few weeks that resulted in the Charleton Tribunal being established, some of those writing about the controversy attempted to wrongly embroil me in it by quoting extracts from the Guerin report.
“I now expect that the State will vindicate my constitutional rights, that the report will be removed from circulation and that steps will be taken by the Taoiseach to request that it be removed from the Oireachtas library.
“I hope it will be withdrawn without delay.”