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Friday 28 April 2017

Curtin's lawyers reject €1m costs offer

Fionnan Sheahan Political Editor

DISGRACED former judge Brian Curtin's legal team yesterday rejected an offer of almost €1m to cover their costs from a Dail inquiry into his fitness to be a judge.

Mr Curtin's lawyers were made the 'take-it-or-leave-it' offer of about €970,000 from the Oireachtas -- around half the amount defence solicitors were claiming.

After 18 months of haggling, the Oireachtas sent a cheque to the legal team at the weekend -- but it was dramatically returned to Leinster House yesterday, the Irish Independent has learned.

The dispute over costs may well now be resolved in court.

Mr Curtin faced impeachment proceedings after charges over alleged child pornography possession were dropped.

The former circuit court judge retired on grounds of ill health in November 2006 before he could be called as a witness at the inquiry. The Oireachtas probe never held public hearings or quizzed Mr Curtin personally, and was bogged down in legal challenges for the best part of two years.

But the Supreme Court awarded the judge his costs, giving the Oireachtas no choice but to pay up.

Mr Curtin was represented by Kerry-based solicitor Robert Pierse and barrister John Rogers who is a senior counsel, a former Attorney General and adviser to former Labour Party leader and Tanaiste Dick Spring.

After 18 months of negotiations to bring the €1.9m bill from Mr Curtin's defence team down, the Oireachtas tried to settle the matter once and for all. The authorities appear to believe if the legal fees claim went to court, the case would cost the taxpayer even more.

Impeachment

Although Mr Curtin never appeared before the impeachment committee, he was represented by his legal team at 35 meetings.

In 2002, gardai seized a computer from Mr Curtin's home alleged to contain pornographic images of children.

However, the warrant had expired and the evidence from the search could not be used in court during his trial that collapsed in 2004.

The Oireachtas began impeachment proceedings the same year,

Mr Curtin later challenged the impeachment and was awarded his costs by the Supreme Court.

Irish Independent

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