Wednesday 20 November 2019

INM expresses 'deep regret' over upset caused by suspected data breach

Independent House on Dublin's Talbot Street
Independent House on Dublin's Talbot Street
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

Independent News & Media (INM) has told the High Court it "deeply regrets the anxiety, upset and concern" caused as a result of a suspected data breach.

It said material contained in an affidavit filed by the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) had "understandably given rise to widespread concern" among INM employees and others.

However, in a replying affidavit, INM director Dr Len O'Hagan said it was opposing an ODCE application to have inspectors appointed as the company believes the matter is better dealt with by the Data Protection Commissioner. He also took issue with an assertion by ODCE director Ian Drennan that the resignation of former INM chairman Leslie Buckley did not diminish the necessity for an investigation.

"The entire focus of the ODCE's concerns as identified in Mr Drennan's affidavit relate to alleged individual wrongdoings on the part of the former chairman and/or the major shareholder, Mr Denis O'Brien," said Dr O'Hagan.

"As Mr Buckley is no longer the chairman or a director of INM, there is no prospect that any alleged wrongdoing on his part will continue or that anything will be done which is unfairly prejudicial to any of INM's members."

Mr Drennan has alleged INM's IT back-up tapes were taken from the company's premises in 2014 and "interrogated" on the instruction of Mr Buckley and that the exercise was paid for by a company owned by Mr O'Brien. Mr Buckley has pledged to robustly defend his position. Mr O'Brien has yet to comment.

Dr O'Hagan said over the period from March to May 2017 he and other directors considered with INM's lawyers the possibility of requiring Mr Buckley to step aside as chairman and/or director of INM.

Dr O'Hagan said he wrote to Mr Buckley on two occasions expressing concerns in relation to the extent of his co-operation with INM and the ODCE, but the chairman was not required to step aside.

The matter was revisited last January, following High Court proceedings involving Mr Buckley and the ODCE.

Dr O'Hagan said there was "a divergence" between Mr Buckley and the board over a statement the then chairman wished INM to issue about the case.

Dr O'Hagan said Mr Buckley confirmed that month he would be resigning in March, which he did at an EGM.

Irish Independent

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