Friday 21 July 2017

Whistleblower report left Shatter in an 'untenable' position, court told

Alan Shatter
Alan Shatter

Tim Healy

Former Justice Minister Alan Shatter was left in an "untenable" position after publication of a report on his handling of complaints by garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe, the High Court heard.

Disputed aspects of barrister Sean Guerin's report include an alleged conclusion that Mr Shatter did not cause Sergeant McCabe's allegations to be investigated, the former minister's lawyer said.

The report instead accepted the then Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan's response to the sergeant's complaints without question, Paul Sreenan SC said.

When compiling the report, Mr Guerin failed to interview Mr Shatter or give him any opportunity "to have his voice heard at all", Mr Sreenan added.

Counsel was opening Mr Shatter's judicial review proceedings aimed at quashing the disputed aspects of the Guerin report. Mr Guerin is opposing the application. Mr Sreenan said Mr Guerin interviewed Sgt McCabe for some 19 hours on four separate occasions.

Mr Guerin, in his terms of reference, was mandated by the Government to look into allegations of wrongdoing made by Sgt McCabe and to report back whether there were matters of public concern justifying a commission of inquiry, counsel said.

The report made findings which, Mr Shatter argued, were regarded as findings of fact that impinged on his good name.

It was known in advance the report was to be published and it contained adverse conclusions concerning Mr Shatter, counsel said. Mr Shatter felt he had no alternative but to do the "ethical" thing and resign.

The approach taken by Mr Guerin also meant there was no independent investigation of Sgt McCabe's complaints, Mr Sreenan argued.

In opposing the proceedings, Mr Guerin said he was asked to carry out a "review" and in doing so, was not a court or tribunal, was not appointed to any office and held no statutory powers or functions.

That review effectively required him to express an expert professional opinion - and he could not be sued by Mr Shatter, or made subject to judicial review, in his capacity as a private citizen, he said.

The case continues.

Irish Independent

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