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Ex-INM Ireland CEO files lawsuit against Buckley



Former INM chairman Leslie Buckley. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Former INM chairman Leslie Buckley. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Former INM chairman Leslie Buckley. Photo: Steve Humphreys

A FORMER senior executive at Independent News & Media (INM) has initiated a lawsuit against the group's former chairman Leslie Buckley.

The action being taken by Joe Webb, former CEO of the news group's Ireland division, relates to an alleged data breach in 2014.

Proceedings were initiated on Monday and come nine months after Mr Webb filed a similar lawsuit against INM.

Among the claims made against Mr Buckley is one for alleged "breach of contract".

The lawsuits stem from concerns that privacy and data protection rights were breached during the alleged "interrogation" of INM data back-up tapes by an external company.

This was done at the direction of Mr Buckley and paid for by a company owned by Denis O'Brien, INM's largest shareholder at the time.

Mr Webb's name appeared on a list of 19 people against whom it is feared searches of the data were made. Almost 40,000 of Mr Webb's emails may have been sourced.

Mr Buckley has claimed that the data interrogation was done as part of a cost-cutting exercise where he was seeking information about a contract.

In a ruling to appoint inspectors to INM in 2018, then-High Court president Peter Kelly said that, on the evidence before him, the circumstances suggested Mr Buckley "has been guilty of misconduct and misfeasance".

Mr Buckley is seeking to have the appointment of inspectors Sean Gillane SC and Richard Fleck revoked on grounds of "objective bias", claiming key evidence in his favour was omitted or misrepresented in an interim report. Inspectors oppose the application.

In an affidavit filed as part of the application, Mr Buckley said: "I deny each and every allegation of wrongdoing made against me in relation to the affairs of INM."

Mr Buckley said Mr O'Brien had given "detailed evidence rejecting the suggestion" that the list of 19 people could represent an "anti-Denis O'Brien list".

He claimed the list came about as a result of "an algorithmic process" and not any "manual input" emanating from himself.

Mr Buckley, who stood down in 2018, also rejected allegations he improperly favoured Mr O'Brien over other shareholders. Mr O'Brien sold his shares to the Mediahuis group last year.

Irish Independent