Tuesday 12 December 2017

Michael Lowry granted permission from High Court to bring challenge preventing trial

High Court grants Independent TD Michael Lowry permission to bring challenge aimed at preventing his trial on alleged tax offences

Michael Lowry TD. Picture: Damien Eagers
Michael Lowry TD. Picture: Damien Eagers

The High Court has granted Independent TD Michael Lowry permission to bring a challenge aimed at preventing his trial before Dublin Circuit Court on alleged tax offences.

Mr Justice Seamus Noonan today said he was satisfied to grant the former Communications Minister permission to bring his challenge on all six grounds advanced. The Judge said Mr Lowry, who was present in court this morning, had made out an arguable case that his upcoming trial should be halted.

The Judge said the full hearing of the action should be expedited, and adjourned the matter for two weeks. The Judge also placed a stay, pending further order of the High Court, on Mr Lowrys trial before Dublin Circuit Criminal Court from proceeding.

Mr Lowry is facing four charges that he allegedly filed incorrect tax returns in 2003 and 2007. He denies all charges.

His trial was transferred from Co Tipperary to Dublin on the application of the DPP. But the TD claims his prosecution is extraordinary because it concerns a payment he had both declared and paid.

Mr Lowry (60), of Glenreigh, Holycross, Co Tipperary, says he has no outstanding tax liability and is being treated unfairly and selectively. He also contends he is entitled to prohibition orders on grounds of alleged prejudicial publicity and alleged wrongful release of taxpayer information into the public domain.

Among the grounds for judicial review, it is alleged there has been an wrongful manipulation of the criminal justice process and Mr Lowry's right to a fair trial has been breached.

Another ground of his case relates to the transfer of the trial to Dublin Circuit Criminal Court. It is claimed this breaches his rights - and amounts to him being punished for success as a politician in Tipperary.

Mr Lowry represented by Patrick Treacy SC claims that one reason the trial should be halted arises out of a media report in relation to a handwritten note he sent to An Taoiseach Enda Kenny. The note asked Mr Kenny to consider reappointing Mr Lowry's former PR adviser Valerie O'Reilly to the board of the National Transport Authority.

The story was published in the 'Sunday Independent' last month. The note recommended Ms O'Reilly because she was bright and intelligent "and not bad looking either".

Today counsel Patrick Treacy said the manner in which the note made its way into the public domain, in advance of Mr Lowry's trial on alleged tax offences, is prejudicial to his client and amounted to a wrongful interference with the criminal process.

He claimed the article, which was subject to much comment, made him look "sexist" and was prejudicial given that half the members of Circuit Court jury was likely to be made up of women.

Counsel said that leaking of the note to the Sunday Independent was part of an orchestrated campaign by that publication against the Tipperary TD.

The circumstances of how "individuals in Dáil Eireann" provided the newspaper with the note is now the subject of a complaint by the Tipperary TD to the Dáil's Committee on Procedures and Privileges.

The application brought on Mr Lowry's behalf was made ex-parte, where one side only was present in court. Lawyers for the DPP previously told the court it would not oppose the application for leave.

Mr Lowry's trial is listed for mention before Dublin Circuit Criminal Court tomorrow, however the Court was informed on Wednesday by Remy Farrell SC for the DPP the case is not likely to be heard until late 2015, or early 2016.

Online Editors

Promoted Links

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News