Wednesday 22 August 2018

Firm says it was given INM data but did not search through it

Independent House, Talbot Street, Dublin
Independent House, Talbot Street, Dublin

Shane Phelan Legal Affairs Editor

A company implicated in the major suspected data breach at Independent News & Media (INM) has denied conducting searches of the data.

Trusted Data Solutions LLC (TDS) confirmed its facility in Wales was used to “restore” IT back-up tapes.

In a statement, it said the tapes, which were a back-up to INM’s servers, were then returned and it had “no further role in the matter”.

However, the statement does not allay fears that the tapes were searched for the names of journalists, former executives and directors, and other individuals.

An apparent search list had 19 names on it including high-profile journalist and broadcaster Brendan O’Connor and two Moriarty Tribunal barristers.

The Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) alleges TDS LLC and its British arm TDS UK were just two of at least six firms given access to the data. Other companies allegedly involved have yet to comment.

INM has said access to the tapes was given on the instruction of then chairman Leslie Buckley in 2014.

The ODCE has cast doubt over Mr Buckley’s explanation that he was seeking information about a legal services contract.

The ODCE has also alleged invoices associated with the exercise were paid by a company owned by Denis O’Brien, INM’s largest shareholder. Mr Buckley has pledged to robustly defend his position, while Mr O’Brien has yet to comment.

In a statement, TDS LLC took issue with recent media reports regarding its role in the controversy.

“TDS were engaged to provide specialist data restoration services at the INM office in Dublin and thereafter at our facility in Wales due to the volume and incomplete organization of the data tapes at the INM offices,” the statement said.

“TDS restored data from the INM backup tapes and returned the data and tapes and had no further role in the matter.”

Asked if the statement meant TDS was denying any role in alleged searches of the data, the firm’s general counsel, Randy Karpman, said: “That’s not what we do.”

Meanwhile, several parties will tomorrow apply to the High Court for access to affidavits filed in connection with the ODCE’s application to appoint inspectors to INM.

Among those seeking access are journalist Sam Smyth, PR firm Red Flag Consulting, Data Protection Commissioner Helen Dixon, former INM chief executive Robert Pitt and INM chief finance officer Ryan Preston.

Online Editors

Business Newsletter

Read the leading stories from the world of Business.

Also in Business