Wednesday 22 November 2017

Angela Kerins entitled to PAC documents used in Rehab probe - court rules

Angela Kerins
Angela Kerins

Tim Healy

FORMER Rehab CEO Angela Kerins is entitled to certain documents used by the Dail Public Accounts Committee (PAC) relating to its investigation of the funding of the organisation, the High Court ruled.

Ms Kerins requires the documents to prepare for her legal action against the PAC in which she seeks a number of orders including one restraiing the committee from pursuing further examination of Rehab's finances insofar as they relate to her former employment.

She is also seeking damages for alleged distress and injury to her health.   She claims the PAC conducted itself unlawfully, showed bias towards her, acted outside its remit, and committed misfeasance in public office.  The PAC denies her claims.

In advance of the action, her lawyers applied to the High Court for orders for discovery of eight categories of documents.   The PAC opposed her application saying the discovery sought was not necessary.

Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy today (Fri) said Ms Kerins was entitled to four categories of documents, including those relating to the PAC'S terms of reference when a decision was made to commence examination of payments made to Rehab and which subsequently resulted in Ms Kerins attendance before the committee in February 2014.

She is also entitled to all documents relating to, including but not limited to, minutes/recordings of PAC meetings and/or meetings between individual PAC members whether in private or public.

She is further entitled to all documents relating to, including but not limited to,  a PAC application in April 2014 to the Dail Committee on Procedure and Privileges for an order compelling her to attend a second PAC meeting. 

That application was refused and in the meantime Ms Kerins had been hospitalised due to what her lawyers claimed were injuries caused as a direct consequence of her appearance before the February PAC meeting, the High Court heard last March.

Ms Justice Kennedy also said Ms Kerins is entitled to all minutes, records and recordings of any PAC meetings that took place from December 1, 2013,  at which discussions took place about Rehab, Ms Kerins, and about whether payments to her and other Rehab staff could or could not be subject of PAC examination.

The judge adjourned the question of a discovery order for a fifth category of document relating to legal advice sought by the PAC when it decided to seek Ms Kerins' attendance before it. 

This related to her claim of misfeasance in public office and should be decided only after the question of unlawfulness by the PAC  has been dealt with by the court, the judge said.

Other categories of documents, including communciations between the PAC and the Comptroller and Auditor General, were superfluous or overlapped with the other documents sought, she ruled.

The judge also said while it had been argued the PAC itself may be subject to restraints relating to the documents she was not satisfied  this was a basis upon which to refuse discovery.

The judge said she will deal next week with the question of an appeal of her decision by the PAC and the question of costs of the discovery application.

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