Thursday 26 April 2018

Dispute over access to personal phones in O'Brien court case

Denis O'Brien
Denis O'Brien
Karl Brophy

Tim Healy

A dispute has erupted over whether personal computers and mobile phones of various executives and employees of Red Flag Consulting must be submitted for "forensic imaging" by experts for businessman Denis O'Brien.

Mr Justice Colm Mac-Eochaidh has been asked to resolve that dispute, and will hear it at the High Court on Monday.

Michael Cush SC, for Mr O'Brien, told the judge a large amount of agreement has been reached about the extent of computer material the Red Flag firm must provide for forensic imaging as part of preparations for Mr O'Brien's action against the firm, which alleges conspiracy and defamation.

It had, however, also emerged from an email received at lunchtime yesterday there is one significant issue of disagreement between the Red Flag firm and Mr O'Brien's side, counsel said.

That related to whether the personal computers and devices of the defendants, as well as their work devices, must be provided for forensic imaging, counsel said.

The sides were unable to resolve that and wanted the court to do so.

Michael Collins SC, for the Red Flag side, also said that the sides differed in relation to their understanding of what was meant by the order providing for forensic imaging of devices.

Red Flag had earlier denied claims by Mr O'Brien that it had not fully honoured the terms of the order providing for the forensic imaging process being carried out by digital forensic experts.

Mr O'Brien claims the firm is linked to an alleged conspiracy to damage him personally and commercially, including in relation to the planned IPO of his Digicel company, which did not proceed.

He claims the defendants contributed to and compiled a dossier of material mainly unfavourable to him, and he wants to establish for whom that dossier was compiled.

The dossier, contained on a USB computer memory stick, was sent to him anonymously earlier this month, he says.

He said he received the dossier after he had asked a private investigator to investigate the alleged conspiracy.

Mr O'Brien wants orders permitting him to inspect documents on the firm's computers and devices and, prior to the court deciding if he is entitled to those inspection orders, the material at issue is to be photographed and stored.

Imaging

That imaging process is being carried out under an order, granted earlier this month, providing for preservation of the material pending determination whether there is a right to inspect it.

The inspection application will be heard on December 8.

Mr O'Brien's action is against Red Flag and some of its directors and employees, including Red Flag CEO Karl Brophy, a former senior executive with Independent News & Media, Red Flag chairman Seamus Conboy, and a non-executive director, Gavin O'Reilly, a former CEO of INM.

Red Flag denies defamation, conspiracy or any wrongdoing. Its lawyers told the court the dossier does contain material gathered by the firm and it is very concerned how that came into Mr O'Brien's possession.

Irish Independent

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