Sunday 24 June 2018

No McCabe 'muttering campaign', insists former INM head of news

Former INM head of news Ian Mallon arrives at the Disclosures Tribunal at Dublin Castle. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins
Former INM head of news Ian Mallon arrives at the Disclosures Tribunal at Dublin Castle. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Andrew Phelan

A former INM head of news has said there was never any "silent muttering campaign" in the organisation about penalty points whistleblower Maurice McCabe.

Ian Mallon denied that he told the then 'Sunday Independent' editor Anne Harris in 2014 that there was more to the garda sergeant than met the eye, and "you know about McCabe and children".

Mr Mallon also denied the words "kiddie fiddler" or "paedophile" were ever used in his presence.

He said there were no "mutterings" about Sgt McCabe, and at the time the story would have been "openly discussed" in the newsroom.

He was giving evidence to the Disclosures Tribunal, which is investigating an alleged smear campaign by senior gardaí against Sgt McCabe.

Former Garda press officer Supt Dave Taylor claims he negatively briefed journalists about Sgt McCabe.

INM group business editor Dearbhail McDonald. Photo: RollingNews.ie
INM group business editor Dearbhail McDonald. Photo: RollingNews.ie

He alleges he was ordered to do so in mid-2013 by then Garda commissioner Martin Callinan and with the knowledge of then deputy commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan. They both deny his allegations.

While Sgt McCabe was investigated over an allegation made by a woman known as Ms D, the DPP decided in 2007 there should be no charges and what was described in the complaint did not amount to a crime.

Mr Mallon gave evidence that he did not know the exact date when he first heard the allegations about Sgt McCabe, but it was via an Irish Independent article by crime journalist Paul Williams in March 2014.

Mr Williams interviewed Ms D, who was claiming Garda impropriety in the investigation into her complaint, he recalled.

Ms Harris was then editor of the 'Sunday Independent' and Claire Grady was then Irish Independent editor.

Mr Mallon told Kathleen Leader BL, for the tribunal, he would not influence editors in any way.

When Mr Williams's story was published, it did not identify Sgt McCabe.

Mr Mallon said after that story, nearly every journalist working in Independent Newspapers was aware of Sgt McCabe's identity, knew there was an old allegation of sexual assault on a child, and that the DPP had ruled there was no case to answer.

He stated it was "simply nonsense and unrealistic for Ms Harris to suggest that there was a silent muttering campaign ongoing where the allegation was known to all".

In cross-examination, Mr Mallon told Michael McDowell SC, for Sgt McCabe, he had no recollection of having any conversation with Ms Harris about Sgt McCabe.

"There was no whispering or murmuring about any stories in my view, when I was present," Mr Mallon told Darren Lehane BL, for Ms Harris.

Ms Harris said Mr Mallon had said to her "you know about McCabe and children", Mr Lehane said.

Mr Mallon said this was "absolutely incorrect", and "Ms Harris had conceded she got it wrong about me" in her evidence.

Mr Mallon's cross-examination is due to conclude today.

Earlier, Dearbhail McDonald, INM group business editor and then legal affairs correspondent, said she was asked by then group editor Stephen Rae for advice and to "stress test" the draft of Mr Williams's article before publication.

Her advice was against publishing the draft article and she said there were material changes between the draft she saw and the article published.

Micheal P O'Higgins SC, for An Garda Síochána, put it to her that by her participation, she was party to a smear.

"I absolutely and utterly reject that," she said, adding the advice and the role that she played went to ensure that Sgt McCabe's reputation was protected.

Irish Independent

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