Monday 20 November 2017

Callely's court bid casts doubt over inquiry into expenses

Callely's court bid puts expense probe in doubt

Fionnan Sheahan and Ray Managh

EMBATTLED senator Ivor Callely will today legally challenge the inquiry into his expenses in a move which threatens to halt two other probes into his financial affairs.

And the Irish Independent has learned that a second senator, Fianna Fail's Larry Butler, is raising legal questions about the Seanad inquiry into his own expenses.

Mr Callely's challenge comes just a day before the deadline for his response to the Seanad committee into a second contentious expenses claim. But the legal challenge over the finding that he misrepresented his address for expenses has the potential to hold up the remaining inquiries into his mobile phone claims and his declaration of property assets.

"It could well have knock-on implications for the investigations. It could either slow down or stymie the ongoing work of the committee," a source close to the committee said.

Mr Callely went to the High Court yesterday to begin proceedings against the Seanad's Select Committee on Members' Interests over his suspension and inquiries into his affairs. Mr Callely briefly met his legal team in the Four Courts before Senior Counsel Michael O'Higgins told Mr Justice Sean Ryan he would today seek leave to legally challenge a number of the committee's decisions.

The senator is suing fellow senators, Seanad Cathaoirleach Pat Moylan; Fianna Fail's Camillus Glynn and Denis O'Donovan; Fine Gael's Frances Fitzgerald; Labour's Alex White; the Green Party's Dan Boyle; and independent Joe O'Toole.

Mr Callely was suspended from the Seanad for 20 days after the committee found he deliberately misrepresented his normal place of residence as being his holiday home in west Cork, rather than his home in Dublin.

Mr Callely did not appear in the courtroom yesterday but was seen in the court building during the morning as he gave final instructions to his legal team. His application for judicial review will be heard, ex parte -- in the absence of the other parties -- by Judge Ryan today.

If granted, the judicial review is unlikely to be heard until near Christmas or the New Year.

The named senators constitute the committee that is currently conducting investigations into Mr Callely's expenses history.

Mr O'Higgins yesterday told Judge Ryan of the senator's intention to bring a case but during the brief hearing did not publicly disclose the senator's identity nor the nature of any reliefs Mr Callely would be seeking today before the court.

The eminent criminal lawyer handed in papers bearing the senator's name and those of the committee and asked Judge Ryan if he would read the documentation, including an extensive sworn affidavit by Mr Callely, in preparation for today's application.


Judge Ryan agreed to read the papers overnight to facilitate the planned half-hour application today.

He then adjourned the application until 11am this morning.

Mr Callely resigned from Fianna Fail last month, just before the party decided to kick him out.

The former junior minister is also being investigated by the committee regarding complaints made against him over to a claim for €3,000 in expenses for mobile phone equipment, allegedly using receipts from a company that was gone out of business.

A further complaint relates to his alleged failure to declare all of the property owned by him in a statutory parliamentary declaration.

Meanwhile, Mr Butler's solicitors have written to the Seanad committee questioning its authority to investigate his expenses claims from a house in Co Carlow, rather than his long-time home in Co Dublin.

Irish Independent

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