Monday 18 December 2017

O'Brien asks court to let him join defence of Persona legal action

Ray Managh

AN APPLICATION by businessman Denis O'Brien to be joined, as a defendant, to a multi-million-euro legal action against the State, will be heard in the High Court on October 9.

Persona, the consortium that finished second to Mr O'Brien's Esat Digifone in the competition for the country's second mobile phone licence in 1996, is suing the State, alleging the licence was awarded as a result of deceit and dishonesty.

Last December, the State filed a motion seeking to add Mr O' Brien and former Communications Minister Michael Lowry as third parties in the action to indemnify it against losses that might arise from the case. Mr O'Brien is not a party to the Persona action.

But he wants to be joined as a defendant so that he can defend the case alongside the State which denies that any "wrongful or corrupt acts" took place.

Mr Lowry, who did not make any application to be joined when the matter came before the High Court yesterday, was Communications Minister at the time the licence was awarded.

Two years ago, the Moriarty Tribunal concluded that Mr O'Brien had made or facilitated payments worth €1m to Mr Lowry.

Both men have always denied the claims and evidence noted by the tribunal cannot be used in the High Court proceedings.

Persona's directors are businessman Tony Boyle and Michael McGinley, father of professional golfer and Ryder Cup Captain Paul McGinley.

Businessman Declan Ganley, whose organisation Comcast finished sixth in the same licensing competition, is also taking a case against the State.

The State has already failed in a bid to have both cases struck out because of the time lapse since the competition but the Supreme Court ruled last year that allegations of corruption against a former government minister were too serious to be struck out on a technicality and should be fully addressed.

Ends

Irish Independent

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