Tuesday 22 January 2019

I had no hand in dossier on O'Brien, says Ganley

The Four Courts, Dublin
The Four Courts, Dublin
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

Businessman Declan Ganley has denied ever being a client of public-relations firm Red Flag or of being engaged in a "covert action" against billionaire Denis O'Brien.

Lawyers for Mr Ganley have objected to efforts to have their client joined as a defendant in a High Court claim for damages against Red Flag over the preparation and distribution of an unflattering dossier about Mr O'Brien.

Mr Ganley was part of the Cellstar consortium that lost out to Mr O'Brien's Esat in the competition for the State's second mobile phone licence in 1996.

In a separate case, he is suing Mr O'Brien, former minister Michael Lowry and the State over the awarding of the licence.

Yesterday, his legal team maintained he should not be joined to the Red Flag case because the application comes outside the two-year statute of limitations for defamation.

In an affidavit, he also said: "I say that I am not and have never been a client of the defendants and I am not a client who engaged with the defendants for the purposes of preparing the dossier."

Michael Cush SC, counsel for Mr O'Brien, said this was "a carefully crafted denial" that left room for the proposition that servants or agent of Mr Ganley could have been involved.

He said servants or agents could be a company controlled by Mr Ganley and that the issue could be debated at trial "when we have discovery and we see what the quality of the evidence is".

The court heard the allegation against Mr Ganley is based on an affidavit sworn by former Fianna Fáil TD Colm Keaveney, who said he believed Mr Ganley was the person who commissioned the dossier.

But Mark Harty SC, for Mr Ganley, said there was no actual evidence that this was the case.

Mr O'Brien had sued Mr Keaveney for defamation over the contents of a draft speech contained in the dossier, but the matter was settled last year.

Mr Harty said neither Mr O'Brien nor Mr Keaveney had disclosed what the terms of the settlement were. The barrister also said Mr Keaveney had contradicted himself.

In one affidavit he expressed his belief Mr Ganley was the man who commissioned the dossier, but a second one outlined how he sent a text to his former parliamentary assistant Alan Hynes saying he had no information on "Gatsby", as he called him.

Ms Justice Miriam O'Regan said she would rule on the application in due course.

Irish Independent

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