Monday 16 December 2019

McCabe accepts that abuse 'cut and paste error' not intentional

Sgt Maurice McCabe. Picture: Collins
Sgt Maurice McCabe. Picture: Collins
Michael McDowell, pictured, says the report referring a rape allegation against Sgt Maurice McCabe should have been double-checked. Picture: Collins
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

Sergeant Maurice McCabe has accepted the referral of a false rape allegation against him to the HSE was "some form of cut and paste error".

The whistleblower's barrister, Michael McDowell SC, said that while the action was negligent, his client did not believe it was done intentionally by psychologist Laura Brophy.

However, Mr McDowell told the Disclosures Tribunal the report should have been checked by Ms Brophy's supervisor before it was forwarded to HSE child protection services in August 2013. The failure to do so had "very serious consequences" for Sgt McCabe and his family, he said.

The barrister was also highly critical of subsequent actions by a number of officials in Tusla, the agency which took over child protection from the HSE.

He made the remarks during submissions to Mr Justice Peter Charleton in relation to a tribunal module which examined the creation and dissemination of a HSE file containing the incorrect allegation.

Ms Brophy, of the HSE's Rian counselling service, forwarded her report after counselling sessions with a woman known as Ms D. This woman had alleged she was sexually assaulted as a child by Sgt McCabe, but the DPP determined in 2007 that no crime had occurred.

The report forwarded by Ms Brophy contained a much more serious allegation, not made by Ms D. This appears to have been lifted in error from a report dealing with another client of Ms Brophy, known as Ms Y.

The tribunal has previously heard how the error was later compounded by other mistakes in the HSE and Tusla, ultimately leading to an incorrect abuse allegation being notified to gardaí and ending up in the office of the Garda Commissioner.

Mr McDowell said Ms Brophy appeared to be a decent, honourable witness who was contrite. He said she had filled out an incident form, explaining what had happened, but nothing similar happened in Tusla.

Instead, he said, there had been "a pattern here of utter denial and evasion of responsibility".

Earlier, Míchéal P O'Higgins SC, for An Garda Síochána, said there had been no organised conspiracy within the force to discredit Sgt McCabe. He said suggestions of a Garda conspiracy to discredit Sgt McCabe involving journalist Paul Williams "have been set at nought".

Mr Williams interviewed Ms D in 2014 about concerns she had about the investigation of her complaint. Sgt McCabe was not named in subsequent articles published in the Irish Independent.

Mr McDowell said the pieces raised a grave question mark over the probity of Sgt McCabe.

Irish Independent

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