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Saturday 23 August 2014

Moriarty to re-examine ruling over advice to AG

Sam Smyth

Published 23/03/2010 | 05:00

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THE chairman of the Moriarty Tribunal said yesterday he would be re-examining a key ruling he had made about legal advice given to the Attorney General (AG).

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The ruling said that a letter from the AG meant that advice given by a senior counsel in 2008 did not address the ownership of the Esat Digifone consortium.

In the tribunal yesterday, Mr Justice Moriarty said he may "reappraise" his finding and he added: "I will be addressing it sooner rather than later." Barrister Denis McFadden from the AG's office, who was assigned work to the licence awarded to Esat Digifone, directly contradicted the chairman's ruling.

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Mr McFadden said: "It has always been the view of the Attorney General's Office, and the AG, that the legal advice of Mr Nesbitt covered the matter of the ownership of the Esat Digifone consortium."

Dermot Desmond's IIU company replaced four named financial backers of Esat Digifone shortly before the consortium was granted the second mobile phone licence in 1996.

Legal advice given to the department for the AG by senior counsel Richard Nesbitt just before the licence was issued said the change in the consortium did not affect its legality.

Meanwhile, counsel for Mr Denis O'Brien asked Mr McFadden if he was "bemused" when he heard of the chairman's 2008 ruling about legal advice given to the AG.

Mr McFadden, who worked with another barrister in the AG's office on the licence issue, said: "We were most certainly surprised and we asked to see where it was stated and which Attorney General had stated it.'

It also emerged in yesterday's hearing that the Department of Communication had claimed privilege over legal advice on the second mobile licence because losing consortiums were taking legal actions.

The tribunal continues today with another barrister from the AG's office giving evidence.

Irish Independent

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