Friday 15 December 2017

Fianna Fáil TD's draft speech in PR firm files on O'Brien

Karl Brophy
Karl Brophy
Denis O'Brien

Tim Healy

A PR company says it is a "mystery" how its computer files on Denis O'Brien ended up on a USB stick which was sent anonymously to the businessman.

In the High Court, Michael Collins SC, for Red Flag Consulting Ltd, said it was of "extraordinary concern" to the firm how computers were accessed, material extracted, and a dossier ended up on Mr O'Brien's desk.

Mr O'Brien had hired a private investigator to look into his claims of an alleged conspiracy to damage him - and it was not clear if the dossier was provided as a result of that investigation or by other means, counsel said.

The dossier includes more than 80 media stories related to Mr O'Brien and a document described as a draft speech for Fianna Fáil TD Colm Keaveney.

A report from the Espion IT firm, hired by Mr O'Brien to forensically examine the dossier, showed words and phrases used in that speech are suggestive of Red Flag Consulting CEO Karl Brophy contributing, said Michael Cush SC for Mr O'Brien.

Mr O'Brien wanted to know who paid Mr Brophy "to craft that".

Mr Cush said his client wants to urgently inspect the Red Flag firm's computers for their action, alleging a "textbook conspiracy" to harm Mr O'Brien's interests. He wanted to establish who commissioned and who contributed to the dossier.

Mr O'Brien's case is against Red Flag and five persons involved with it: former Independent News & Media senior executives Gavin O'Reilly and Karl Brophy; Red Flag chairman Seamus Conboy; account manager Brid Murphy and account executive Kevin Hiney.

Mr O'Brien initially sought search and seizure orders, which would have permitted his representatives to enter Red Flag offices and take material from computers but they were refused by the President of the High Court, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns.

The judge instead made orders essentially preserving any such files. The matter was before the court yesterday to decide how to progress the hearing of Mr O'Brien's application for injunctions, permitting his side to inspect the material on the Red Flag computers.

Mr Cush, for Mr O'Brien, sought an urgent hearing of the injunction matter but Mr Collins, for Red Flag, disagreed. The judge was told both sides would agree to forensic imaging, or photographing, of the contents of the Red Flag computers. The judge directed the imaging process be carried out "forthwith".

The judge also directed that the USB stick, access to which was sought by the Red Flag side, be instead held by Mr O'Brien's solicitor pending further order and not be interfered with.

He fixed December 8 for hearing the application for injunctions permitting Mr O'Brien's side to inspect the material to be photographed from the Red Flag computers.

Irish Independent

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