Sunday 25 September 2016

Lucinda Creighton directs anyone questioning how much she paid for legal costs at centre of Sipo complaint to contact her solicitor

Published 24/02/2016 | 14:06

Renua’s Lucinda Creighton. Photo: Frank McGrath
Renua’s Lucinda Creighton. Photo: Frank McGrath

RENUA leader Lucinda Creighton has insisted anyone questioning how much she paid for the legal costs at the centre of an ethics watchdog complaint should contact her solicitor.

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Ms Creighton’s legal costs from a defamation case she settled with property developer Michael O’Flynn are currently the subject of a complaint to the Standards in Public Office Commission (Sipo).

Two weeks ago, she said she would provide “evidence” to prove she did not receive reduced legal fees from her solicitor or barrister, which should have been publicly declared.

Since then, she released a letter, dated February 19, 2016, from her solicitor stating she paid the bill given to her by legal firm Simon McAleese Solicitors

However, the letter does not say if she did or did not receive discounted fees which should have been declared with the public office ethics watchdog.

Asked by independent.ie if she was charged the full rate by Simon McAleese Solicitors for all costs associated with the case, Ms Creighton said that was a question for the firm.

“You will have to speak to Simon McAleese about what they charge. I have no idea. They charged me for services provided to me and I paid them in full. If you want to question that go back to Simon McAleese,” she said

Speaking at Renua’s final press conference, Ms Creighton also dismissed the complaints lodged against her with Sipo as “frivolous”.

"A complaint was made about me by an anonymous person six months ago which was found not to present prima facie evidence and was thrown out by Sipo,” she said.

“They didn’t even contact me about it because it was so frivolous and baseless and without any proof and that exact same complaint was made, again with no evidence, was furnished two days after this election was called. You can draw whatever conclusions you want from that.

“My solicitor has clearly stated and I provided that to both Sipo and the Sunday Independent,which said clearly that I was billed for my legal receipts and they were discharged in full,” she added.

The 'Sunday Independent' first revealed two weeks ago that an individual wrote to Sipo alleging Ms Creighton received a benefit in kind through the alleged receipt of a partial settlement, discount or forbearance on the payment of legal fees she incurred from her barristers and Simon McAleese Solicitors.

The legal firm represented her during a High Court defamation case taken against her by property developer Michael O'Flynn in 2012.

Mr O'Flynn lodged the legal action following remarks Ms Creighton made about participation in a Fine Gael golf fundraiser at the K Club.

She settled the case after two days of hearings and agreed to pay part of the developer's legal costs. Typical costs for a two-day High Court defamation case are between €75,000 and €100,000.

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