Tuesday 26 March 2019

Ex-INM executives plan legal action over alleged data breach

Legal move: Former INM chief executive Gavin O’Reilly. Picture: Gerry Mooney
Legal move: Former INM chief executive Gavin O’Reilly. Picture: Gerry Mooney
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

Three former Independent News & Media (INM) staff, including two former senior executives, intend to issue legal proceedings in relation to the major suspected data breach at the company, the High Court has heard.

The disclosure was made by a barrister representing former INM chief executive Gavin O'Reilly, his secretary while at INM, Mandy Scott, and INM's former director of corporate affairs Karl Brophy.

All three are now involved in running a public relations firm called Red Flag and are concerned their personal data may have been accessed during an "interrogation" of INM's IT back-up tapes in 2014.

The court has previously heard that, according to INM, the company's former chairman Leslie Buckley ordered the back-up tapes be given to a third party service provider.

Mr Buckley has pledged to robustly defend his position.

Barrister Hugh McDowell told the court Mr O'Reilly, Mr Brophy and Ms Scott wished to use affidavits and documents gathered by the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) as part of their intended legal action.

The material was gathered by the ODCE as part of its successful bid to have High Court inspectors appointed to investigate the suspected data breach and other matters.

It included a list of 19 people whose names are feared to have been searched for during an "interrogation" of the data.

Mr Brophy and Ms Scott's names appeared on the list, but Mr O'Reilly's did not.

Mr McDowell told the President of the High Court, Mr Justice Peter Kelly, his clients were among a group of people granted access to certain ODCE material last April on condition that any parties seeking to use those documents would have to seek the permission of the court to do so. He said the ODCE had no objection to his clients using the material, but INM was objecting.

The court heard INM's concerns were that the three former employees had failed to identify the nature of the proceedings and against whom they would be taken.

The company also feared that providing consent would infringe on data protection law.

Mr McDowell said he did not want to go into who the respondents in any legal action would be, but said at least one was likely to be INM.

In response to a query from Mr Justice Kelly, Mr McDowell said the High Court inspectors had not been consulted about the application.

The judge agreed to hold a hearing on the application next May and set out a timetable for the exchange of affidavits.

He also said that both the ODCE and the High Court inspectors should be served, but neither needed to send legal representation if they were consenting to the application.

Irish Independent

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