News Irish News

Friday 27 April 2018

'Anglo Shredder' is now advising State on labour law as ODCE report looms

O'Connell submits a 'highly personal' statement

Kevin O’Connell told the Anglo trial of his ‘calamitous error’. Picture: Collins
Kevin O’Connell told the Anglo trial of his ‘calamitous error’. Picture: Collins
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

The lead investigator behind the botched probe into former Anglo boss Seán FitzPatrick is now advising the State on the issue of employment law, the Irish Independent can reveal.

Kevin O'Connell, who has been dubbed 'The Anglo Shredder', was transferred to the new post in the Labour Division of the Department of Enterprise following the dramatic collapse of the FitzPatrick case.

Over 32 days of testimony, the trial heard how Mr O'Connell shredded documents that were relevant to the investigation while serving as legal adviser to the Office of Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE).

Mr O'Connell described the shredding of documents in his office in May 2015 as "a calamitous error", which occurred at a time when he was under "enormous pressure".

"Unfortunately, at the later stage of the investigation, I made a calamitous error," he told Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

"I shredded a small number of documents which ought not to have been shredded."

Along with Mr O'Connell's startling admission, the court also heard how key witnesses in the case had been subjected to 'coaching'.

Both issues are expected to form part of a report compiled by ODCE director Ian Drennan, which is currently in the hands of Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald.

Well-placed sources say the report, which has been heavily scrutinised by the Attorney General, is expected to find:

A lack of training and experience among staff contributed to the findings of 'coaching';

The ODCE was not properly equipped to run several parallel investigations of a complex scale;

The handling of the FitzPatrick case "fell below appropriate standards";

And the focus on securing the convictions of Anglo bankers Willie McAteer and Pat Whelan consumed significant ODCE resources.

The review was ordered by the former Jobs Minister Mary Mitchell O'Connor, who has since been replaced at the department by Ms Fitzgerald.

The Tánaiste has delayed the publication of the review in order to obtain further legal advice from Attorney General Séamus Woulfe.

Sources have said a public inquiry is being considered.

Meanwhile, documents released under the Freedom of Information Act detail how Mr O'Connell has since been moved to a new post following the collapse of the case.

In correspondence with colleagues, Mr O'Connell confirmed that he had taken up a role as legal adviser in the Labour Affairs Division of the department.

"Today is not the day for me to seek to say anything of a parting variety to colleagues with whom I have worked for a long time - more than 15 years in a few instances," Mr O'Connell wrote in the June email.

"In the short time since I learned of my move, I could not possibly have managed to reduce into a few sentences the many good and happy memories I will take of my time in the ODCE and to acknowledge properly all the people whom I would wish to thank specifically."

He goes on to confirm that he has forwarded to the ODCE and the department a statement which he says he prepared in May 2016 and which deals with issues of a "highly personal nature".

He adds that he hopes this particular sensitive information will not appear in the final report provided by the ODCE director to the Government.

As previously revealed by the Irish Independent, Mr O'Connell raised grave fears in a series of emails about the lack of resources and experience available to his team.

But the emails were only forwarded to the Government in May - after the FitzPatrick case had collapsed.

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News