Thursday 19 April 2018

Disgraced Ivor Callely facing another term in jail for breaking court order

Ivor Callely
Ivor Callely

Tom Tuite

Disgraced former politician Ivor Callely is facing another term in jail for breaking a court order forcing him to pay a debt to an accountancy firm.

The ex-Fianna Fail politician and Minster of State was jailed for five months in 2014 for using false invoices to claim expenses €4,207.45 at Leinster House, Kildare Street between November 2007 and December 2009 while he was a member of the Seanad.

However, today Callely (57) of St Lawrence, Clontarf, had to appear before Judge Michael Coghlan at Dublin District Court.

This set of proceedings results from his failure to comply with terms of a 2013 district court judgement compelling him to pay a €1,755 debt to Galway based accountants Gallagher & Company who have asked the judge or issue a committal order.

Callely, who claims he has needs a €2,500 a month “for a reasonable living”, said he had done his best to contact the creditor but Judge Michael Coghlan told him he was in contempt of court orders.

Threatening to jail him, the judge said he was not impressed with his evidence and wanted to see proof of his income and expenditure. Judge Coghlan said he would not proceed with a committal order on Tuesday but he adjourned the case for four weeks.

He gave the former TD and senator a “formal warning” that he would issue the committal order if Callely does does not provide the court and the creditor with adequate information in advance of the next hearing.

Solicitor Paula McHugh acting for Gallagher & Company's told the court that €1,755 was owed by Callely to the firm. There was also an additional application to increase the amount outstanding by another €150.

She furnished the court with an invoice and explained that the extra amount was a result of expenses from hiring a private investigator to establish the whereabouts of Callely who also spends time in Northern Ireland. She also said he had not notified them of a change of address.

She said he never kept in touch with her clients after the original judgement was given in the district court in June 2013. The ruling included an instalment order stating Callely had to pay €100 a month to clear his debt.

The former politician gave evidence and provided a statement of his means which he said had been vouched by an assets management agency. However lawyers for Gallagher & Company said they had not been furnished with Callely's income and expenditure documents.

In evidence he said that he has an income of €7,683 a month most. He pays €4,800 a month on a lease for a commercial property in Dublin which he lets out but he explained it was difficult to find tenants able to afford the rent.

At present a hardware owner is paying him €5,200 a month to use the premises. He said the rent on the property is higher than that on others in the same area and over recent years three Chinese restaurants operated out of the premises but he added the rent was too heavy for them and they could not make ends meet.

He agreed that two of his monthly payments had bounced back to him and he contacted the owner's solicitor and learned the owner had died.

Ms McHugh put it to him that he did not afford the same respect to her clients and he replied that she was presenting it in in a “smart fashion” adding “I tried to find out what happened”.

Judge Coghlan said Callely's vouched statement of means did not stand up to scrutiny and that the court needed to see the lease agreement.

Explaining why he has not paid the debt he said that his lawyers were also looking for a payment of €6,200 in legal fees arising out of his criminal charges and other proceedings which he was not in a position to pay.

The court heard he owes approximately €250,000 to the legal firm.

He also aid that he owes €5m to AIB and €11m to another creditor, the court heard.

Ms McHugh put it to him that in the three years since the district court judgement was made he never picked up the phone to contact her clients. They had to make the court application, she said.

“I try to be reasonable with everyone,” said Mr Callely but Ms McHugh said that was not he experience of her client. He claimed he left numerous telephone messages but the court heard that the solicitors for the accountancy firm only received one message.

Judge Coghlan noted from his statement of means that Callely has €2,500 in living expenses. The former politician said it was €800 a week, which he claimed was an amount set out by an insolvency advisor for “reasonable living”.

Judge Coghlan was not satisfied with the documentation furnished by the ex-politician and told him that he was not interested in third party information which described as estimates. He said he was interested in forensic evidence.

“I am not a bit impressed by this performance Mr Callely,” said Judge Coghlan, adding, “this is a very serious point, this is coming to the end of the rope”. He told him that an instalment order is in place and he has failed to make any repayments and this was nothing short of a contempt of at least two court orders, the judgement and the instalment order.

He said he was giving him a month to produce full explanations for “every penny of his income”. He said he was giving him a formal warning that he will require a “full root and branch” vouched statement of means setting out his income and a schedule of his expenditure.

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