Thursday 29 September 2016

Unlawful conspiracy alleged by O'Brien in court case

Tim Healy

Published 15/10/2015 | 02:30

Karl Brophy
Karl Brophy
Karl Brophy
Karl Brophy
Karl Brophy

Businessman Denis O'Brien says a computer memory stick - supplied anonymously to him - contained an "extraordinary" dossier of documents which discloses an alleged concerted and unlawful conspiracy to damage him personally and commercially.

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Mr O'Brien alleges a forensic examination of the dossier by a firm, Epsion, indicates Dublin-based public relations firm Red Flag Consulting Ltd, whose executives include Gavin O'Reilly, former CEO of Independent News & Media, and former senior executive with INM Karl Brophy, are linked to the alleged conspiracy.

He believes a client of Red Flag is behind the alleged conspiracy and wants to establish the identity of any such client. Mr O'Brien believes the dossier was designed to be given to people who can avail of parliamentary privilege, the court heard. Mr O'Brien is claiming damages for alleged defamation and conspiracy.

On Tuesday, his lawyers obtained an interim order preventing Red Flag interfering with or removing computer material and other IT items from its offices. Michael Cush SC, for Mr O'Brien, said the defamatory material was in a dossier that included eight Microsoft Office documents on a memory stick provided to Mr O'Brien following an investigation which he ordered.

Unfavourable

Yesterday, the High Court continued the interim orders for preservation of documents contained in the dossier. These include PDF documents entitled "Who is Denis O'Brien?" and "The Moriarty Tribunal Explainer", along with many Irish and international media articles about the businessman which he contends are mostly unfavourable to him. The dossier also contains a transcript of a Dail debate relating to the Siteserv transaction.

The material was clearly defamatory and dealt with matters including Mr O'Brien's involvement with the Moriarty Tribunal, his tax status as a resident in Portugal, the recent initial public offering of shares in Mr O'Brien's Digicel company and other allegations, counsel said.

A court order permitting access to the company's IT system would enable his side to identify contributors and receivers to the material in question, he said.

The president of the High Court, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns, said he was not inclined to grant the "quite draconian" order allowing lawyers and investigators into Red Flag to take control of the computers.

Mr O'Brien's action is against the Red Flag firm and five persons involved with it: Mr O'Reilly and Mr Brophy, Red Flag chairman Seamus Conboy; account manager Brid Murphy and account executive Kevin Hiney.

Michael Collins, SC, who is representing all defendants except for Mr O'Reilly said his clients may need to consult with gardai and take proper instructions. The case returns on Friday.

Irish Independent

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