Saturday 24 February 2018

Businessman Denis O'Brien's legal action against Dail committee to be heard in November

Denis O’Brien. Photo: Bloomberg
Denis O’Brien. Photo: Bloomberg

BUSINESSMAN Denis O'Brien's action against a Dail committee over speeches made in the House concerning his banking affairs will be heard on November 29.

On the application of lawyers for Mr O'Brien and for the Committee on Procedures and Privileges (CPP) and the State, High Court Deputy Master Angela Denning also made directions for exchange of legal submissions between the sides before that date.

Both sides have liberty to call witnesses in the case but have not indicated so far if they will do so or, if they will, whom they intend to call.

In his proceedings initiated in June 2015, Mr O'Brien claims there is a "clear public interest" in the courts determining whether Dail utterances by Social Democrat Deputy Catherine Murphy and Sinn Fein TD Pearse Doherty in May and June 2015 respectively effectively determined his legal action against RTE aimed at restraining publication of details of his banking affairs with State-owned Irish Bank Resolution Corporation.

The CPP later decided neither Deputy had breached standing orders governing debates in the Oireachtas in their remarks.

Mr O'Brien claims the CPP and State permitted the utterances be made in breach of his right to fair procedures, his rights of privacy and access to the courts and in breach of standing orders regulating debate in the Oireachtas.

 his amounted to "unwarranted interference" by the Oireachtas with the operation of the courts "in a purely judicial domain", it is alleged.

In addressing Mr O'Brien's claims the utterances breached the terms of a High Court injunction, the CPP said any such finding was exclusively a matter for the courts.

On July 3, his lawyers were told the CPP had concluded Deputy Doherty's "exercise of his constitutional freedom of speech" in the Dail fell outside the scope of, and did not contravene, the standing order regulating debate in the House.

Mr O'Brien alleges, as far as he is aware,  the CPP received no submissions from either TD about his complaints before making its findings and, if it had, he was given no opportunity to respond to such submissions in breach of his right to fair procedures.

The claims are denied.

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