Friday 24 November 2017

Judge to rule on Paddy McKillen's application over access to Department of Finance documents

Property investor Paddy McKillen
Property investor Paddy McKillen

Tim Healy

A HIGH Court judge will rule later on an application by property investor Paddy McKillen over access to Department of Finance documents.

He is seeking to secure full access to 12 documents he believes will show the Department engaged in “inappropriate” contacts with others about his loans with State-owned IBRC and NAMA.

Mr Justice Seamus Noonan heard final arguments on today in the action by Mr McKillen over the Information Commissioner’s rejection of his complaint over the Department's refusal to hand over the documents. The judge said he will give his judgment on a later date.

In his November 2014 decision, the Commissioner upheld arguments by the Department that 11 of the documents could not be fully handed over for contempt of court reasons.

The contempt issue arose from the eleven documents already being subject to a High Court discovery order sought by Mr McKillen in other proceedings.

The Department said a twelfth document was exempt on grounds it contained commercially sensitive information which it was not in the public interest to disclose. That information related to potential bids for acquisition of Mr McKillen’s loans.

In his challenge, Mr McKillen contends communications fully or partly disclosed by the Department to date suggest it was being “inappropriately” lobbied by interests linked to the UK billionaire Barclay brothers concerning acquisition of his “fully-performing” loans as part of a hostile takeover strategy concerning the London-based Maybourne hotel group.

Mr McKillen was the largest shareholder in the Maybourne hotel group when it was subject of a takeover bid launched by the Barclays in 2010 and 2011.

Among the documents sought from the Department is the identity of the recipient of an email sent in October 2011 by former Department of Finance Secretary General John Moran.

That email was copied to two senior Department officials and its subject was a scanned document.

The identity of the sender of the scanned document was initially blacked out but was later disclosed as Richard Faber, a director of a company linked to the Barclay brothers and a former son in law of Sir Frederick Barclay, the court heard.

The Information Commissioner opposed the application.

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