Sunday 22 July 2018

Former CEO to get papers on suspected data breach at INM

Independent House, Talbot Street, Dublin
Independent House, Talbot Street, Dublin
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

A former chief executive of Independent News & Media (INM) and three others will be given access to court documents relating to a major suspected data breach at the company.

The president of the High Court approved a request from Vincent Crowley for access to court filings related to an application by the corporate watchdog to have inspectors appointed to INM.

Mr Justice Peter Kelly also approved similar requests from public relations consultant Rory Godson and two employees of strategic communications firm FTI Consulting, Mark Kenny and Jonathan Neilan.

Mr Crowley was INM's CEO between 2012 and 2014 and is now chairman of newspaper industry body Newsbrands.

The names of all four appeared on a 19-person list discovered by the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) during its investigation of a so-called "interrogation" of INM data.

It is feared the list was used to search data back-up tapes in 2014. INM says the tapes were given to a third-party service provider on the instructions of then chairman Leslie Buckley.

He has claimed the exercise was part of a search for information about a legal services contract he wished to renegotiate. But INM has said ODCE correspondence suggests the data may have been "searched more extensively and for a different purpose".

Mr Buckley, who was a nominee of INM's largest shareholder Denis O'Brien, stepped down from INM's board in March.

Bairbre O'Neill BL, counsel for INM, said her clients had agreed to facilitate the requests.

Mr Justice Kelly directed papers "relating to the data interrogation issue" be furnished to the four applicants by next Tuesday. He said the documents were to be subject to relevant redactions and were to be held confidentially and not used for any purpose other than the proceedings.

The application by the ODCE for the appointment of inspectors to investigate the data breach and other corporate governance issues at INM is also due to get under way next Tuesday. INM is opposing the application, which it believes is unwarranted.

Several others on the list of 19 have already been given access to court papers relevant to them.

They include former Irish Independent journalist Sam Smyth and former INM Ireland chief executive Joe Webb.

The Office of the Data Protection Commissioner, Helen Dixon, was also given court documents.

The court heard there would be an application today from Ms Dixon's office, seeking permission to use the documents in its investigation into the suspected data breach.

INM issued legal proceedings against Mr Buckley in May.

It is understood the company is claiming to have suffered damage as a result of his alleged actions.

Mr Buckley has said he plans to fully and robustly defend himself against each and every allegation.

Irish Independent

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