Former TD Liam Cosgrave bids to halt corrupt payments trial
FORMER Fine Gael TD Liam Cosgrave's prosecution on charges of corruption is an "abuse of process", his lawyers have claimed.
Mr Cosgrave, of Merrion Park, Blackrock, Co Dublin, yesterday began a Supreme Court appeal aimed at halting his trial in connection with alleged corrupt payments concerning land rezonings.
Mr Cosgrave has denied charges of receiving corrupt payments in relation to the 1992 rezoning of lands in Carrickmines, owned by Jackson Way (JWP), and the successful rezoning of part of these lands in 1997.
In a separate case, businessman Jim Kennedy of Cormorant Wharf, Queensway Quay, Gibraltar, has denied 16 charges of making corrupt payments to politicians relating to rezoning motions voted on by Dublin County Council and Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown County Council concerning land in Carrickmines.
Last July, the High Court rejected bids by the two men to halt the trials. Their appeals against that decision came before a five-judge Supreme Court yesterday.
Mr Kennedy's appeal was adjourned to January.
Mr Cosgrave has denied charges of receiving sums between June 12 and June 29, 1992; on December 23, 1997 at Buswells Hotel, Dublin; and on October 30, 1997 at the Davenport Hotel in Dublin.
Presenting Mr Cosgrave's appeal, Brendan Grehan SC said his client's constitutional right to a fair trial had been breached by the failure to disclose to him or his lawyers in 2004 that lobbyist Frank Dunlop had provided a written statement to gardai in relation to the alleged corrupt payments.
Mr Grehan said Mr Cosgrave was questioned in 2004 about charges of breaches of the Electoral Act, to which he later pleaded guilty.
He accepted that Mr Cosgrave and his advisers were aware in 2004 of allegations of corruption made by Mr Dunlop to the planning tribunal.
However, he said allegations made to a tribunal could not form the basis of criminal proceedings. Mr Cosgrave was entitled to know Mr Dunlop had also provided a statement about the alleged corruption matters outside the tribunal.
Mr Grehan said the prosecution was required to explain and justify why Mr Cosgrave was not prosecuted on the corruption charges for another six years. The delay had occurred in the DPP's office but the DPP had provided no affidavits from anyone in his office to explain it.
He said the argument that Mr Dunlop was not available to the DPP as a prosecution witness until after his own subsequent prosecution was inadequate. Mr Grehan further argued that his client should have been told there was a possibility of a prosecution on corruption charges at the time he was charged with offences under the Electoral Acts.
The cumulative effect of the failure to tell him, and other failures, amounted to an abuse of process.
He said there was no indication of a criminal investigation in letters sent to Mr Cosgrave's lawyers by the Criminal Assets Bureau in 2004 and 2005, seeking to interview him in relation to the Carrickmines rezonings.
That correspondence was indicative of a civil investigation by CAB, seeking Mr Cosgrave's assistance for CAB's purpose of trying to freeze the assets of JWP.
The appeal continues today.