Tuesday 12 November 2019

Dentist claims another dentist has put his practice under secret surveillance

(Stock photo)
(Stock photo)
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

A dentist has claimed before the High Court that he and his staff were put under surveillance by secret cameras installed by another dentist.

The claim has been made by Michael Maguire against James Hiney, who operate their separate dental practices out of a building they co-own at Market Point, Mullingar, Co Westmeath.    

The two had run their businesses at the premises successfully for some years.

In recent times, that relationship has decayed to the point that the environment between the dentists is "toxic", the court heard.   

In a sworn statement, Mr Maguire said that as the relationship unravelled there have been a host of issues between the two, ranging from petty complaints to serious allegations of criminal behaviour between the two.  

He said Mr Hiney has made allegations against him, including assault defamation, harassment, vandalism, the withholding of information from insurers about the building, which Mr Maguire does not accept. 

Negotiations aimed at resolving the dispute have not succeeded, he said. 

As a result of a number of recent events, Mr Maguire seeks various orders against Mr Hiney. 

These, including one preventing the defendant from monitoring and surveillance of his employees, that his patients are not solicited, and any proposed construction works at the premises be halted. 

Mr Maguire also seeks orders that all data including patient lists be returned to him as well as an order for damages.

On Tuesday, Ms Justice Costello granted Mr Maguire permission to serve short notice of proceedings, on an ex parte basis (one side only represented) against Mr Hiney.

Stephen Byrne BL, for Mr Maguire, said among the immediate concerns were the installation of security cameras in the building by Mr Hiney, which were put in without Mr Maguire's consent. 

Last April, members of Mr Maguire's staff noticed a small cavity in the false ceiling above the reception area, he said. 

The hole had a secret camera, wiring and a microphone. This has been reported to the Gardai. 

Counsel said Mr Maguire's staff and patient's activities, personal files and patient data were captured by the camera.  

Counsel said Mr Hiney's solicitor said in correspondence the camera was installed on the advice of Gardai over an alleged theft of money from the premises, and that it was focused on his (Hiney's) staff.

This is not accepted by Mr Maguire, counsel said, as a specialist firm who carried out a report on the camera showed an image from the camera showing Mr Maguire's staff working at their part of the reception desk.  

Mr Maguire also claims the defendant has engaged in a marketing campaign, including sending text messages, in an effort to solicit his patients.

Among those patients who received messages from Mr Hiney's business was Mr Maguire's wife, counsel said. 

Counsel said his client is concerned that his patients' details were obtained from a backup computer server that contained records which the defendant removed from the shared premises and has not returned.  

Counsel said Mr Maguire's other concern was that Mr Hiney has engaged to people to commence works on the exterior of the premises in early July. 

The matter will return before the court this week. 

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