Sunday 24 June 2018

INM sues former chairman Buckley in wake of ODCE probe into data breach

Former INM chairman Leslie Buckley. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Former INM chairman Leslie Buckley. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

Independent News & Media (INM) has issued legal proceedings against its former chairman Leslie Buckley in the wake of revelations about a major suspected data breach.

The lawsuit was initiated yesterday and it is understood the company is claiming to have suffered damage as a result of the alleged actions of Mr Buckley, who left INM in March.

The proceedings are expected to focus on alleged breaches by the former chairman of his duties as a director.

INM declined to go into detail, but a spokesman confirmed proceedings had been issued.

Mr Buckley is central to an investigation by the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) into various corporate governance issues. These include the removal of IT back-up tapes from the company's premises to a site abroad.

It is feared the data was reconstituted and searched for information about several people, including prominent journalists, barristers and former INM staff and directors.

INM has confirmed the tapes were given to a third party service provider on the instructions of Mr Buckley.

He claimed he was searching for details of a contract as part of a "cost-reduction exercise".

However, INM says ODCE correspondence suggests the data may have been "searched more extensively and for a different purpose".

INM is opposing an application by the ODCE for the appointment of High Court inspectors to investigate this and other matters further. The company believes the move would be disproportionate and damaging and that there would be substantial costs involved.

At its AGM earlier this month, new chairman Murdoch MacLennan said INM was prepared to take steps to obtain redress from third parties if advised to do so.

After initially declining to comment, Mr Buckley issued a statement following the publication of this report in the Irish Independent and Independent.ie.

"Following media inquiries and in response to media reports and online commentary, it would not be appropriate for me to speculate or to comment on any matter that may be the subject of legal proceedings,” he said. 

“I reiterate my already stated position that I will fully and robustly defend myself against each and every allegation. I continue to reserve my position.”

Irish Independent

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