Sunday 25 August 2019

Ex-commissioner Callinan's tribunal legal bill set to be covered by taxpayer

Findings: Martin Callinan waged a ‘campaign of calumny’. Picture: Collins
Findings: Martin Callinan waged a ‘campaign of calumny’. Picture: Collins
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

Former Garda commissioner Martin Callinan will not have to pay any legal costs in connection with his representation at the Disclosures Tribunal, despite its findings he waged a "campaign of calumny" against whistleblower Sergeant Maurice McCabe.

Mr Callinan was represented by the Chief State Solicitor's Office at the tribunal and his legal bill is being paid out of the taxpayer-funded office's resources, sources have told the Irish Independent.

However, former Garda press officer David Taylor, who assisted Mr Callinan in the campaign, could have to pay some or all of his costs.

Unlike the former commissioner, Mr Taylor did not have a State-funded legal team and must seek his costs from the tribunal itself.

At a costs hearing yesterday, his counsel, Michael O'Higgins SC, asked the tribunal to pay most of his client's legal costs.

He suggested to chairman Mr Justice Peter Charleton that if a decision is made not to award all of Mr Taylor's costs, then a 10pc deduction might be appropriate.

Mr Justice Charleton is to rule on the matter soon.

Both Mr Callinan and Mr Taylor were heavily criticised in the tribunal report, which concluded they engaged in a campaign against Sgt McCabe by falsely linking him to allegations of sexual assault.

Mr Taylor, who was a Garda superintendent, retired from the force last year in the aftermath of the tribunal findings.

In his report, Mr Justice Charleton said he had the gravest difficulty in accepting Mr Taylor's evidence to the tribunal as anything approximating to the truth.

At the costs hearing, tribunal counsel Kathleen Leader SC said the default position was that parties were entitled to have their costs paid by the tribunal.

However, she said it had discretion and could opt not to award some or all of the costs.

In making this decision, Ms Leader said the tribunal had to consider whether a party co-operated and whether they told the truth.

Mr O'Higgins said the judge's decision "might involve an element of compassion".

The barrister said that while Mr Taylor had "been found wanting" by the tribunal, he did co-operate.

Submissions were also made on behalf of Mr Taylor's wife Michelle, Garda head of human resources John Barrett, 'Irish Examiner' journalists Cormac O'Keeffe, Juno McEnroe and Daniel McConnell, Inspector Patrick O'Connell and retired garda John Kennedy. They are all seeking 100pc of their costs.

Irish Independent

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