Thursday 22 August 2019

Buckley says he will defend himself against ODCE allegations

Independent News & Media chief executive Michael Doorly told staff their jobs were not at risk
Independent News & Media chief executive Michael Doorly told staff their jobs were not at risk
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

The former chairman of the country's largest media publishers has vowed to defend himself against a range of serious allegations made by the corporate watchdog.

Leslie Buckley, who stepped down as chairman of Independent News & Media (INM) last month, said he intended to robustly defend his position.

Mr Buckley said he was "appalled" by what he described as "the widespread circulation and sharing" of an Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) court document.

He said the affidavit contained "the most serious and damaging of allegations relating to my tenure as chairman of INM plc".

These concerns are due to be outlined to the High Court on April 16, when ODCE director Ian Drennan will seek the appointment of inspectors to INM.

Among other issues the affidavit claims Mr Buckley directed a major "data interrogation" exercise, where it is claimed IT back-up tapes were removed from INM's premises to a company outside the jurisdiction in October 2014. It is alleged they were "interrogated".

Fears have been expressed that several people, including journalists, had their emails searched.

Mr Buckley broke his silence over the controversy yesterday.

In a statement, Mr Buckley said he believed "due process and fair procedures" had been "completely and wholly disregarded".

"I will continue to co-operate fully with the ODCE and will robustly defend my position against each and every allegation. I am advised to reserve my position," he said.

The company's chief executive Michael Doorly told staff at the company's Dublin headquarters the 815 jobs in INM were not at risk. He said the company was profitable and financially stable.

Mr Doorly said INM's board was now dealing with issues raised by the ODCE and the Data Protection Commissioner.

If inspectors are appointed it would be a costly exercise, he said, but would not detract from the business.

"I just want to assure you that you shouldn't be going home having sleepless nights," Mr Doorly told staff.

"There may be questions people have to answer. They will be dealt with. It's not you. Nobody in this building should be afraid of anything. You have done nothing wrong."

Mr Doorly said it was alleged magnetic back-up tapes were taken and later returned.

He said he believed these contained emails, but not human resources or payroll information.

The chief executive said he could not give staff any assurances about what allegedly happened in 2014 and that this needed to be investigated.

Mr Doorly said there had been a lot of comment on the affairs of INM in the media.

"It is understandable and to be expected, but disappointingly some of the comment has questioned the integrity of the journalism within INM," he said.

"That is not acceptable. We have a proud tradition of covering national and international news for over 100 years.

"We have nothing to hide from and nothing to fear. We will continue to support independent journalism and the journalists who pursue stories that are relevant and groundbreaking."

Irish Independent

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