Tuesday 20 August 2019

O'Brien is refused Red Flag document

Businessman Denis O’Brien. Photo: Collins Courts
Businessman Denis O’Brien. Photo: Collins Courts

Aodhan O'Faolain

A High Court judge has refused to grant Denis O'Brien orders directing Red Flag Consulting to discover documents that would disclose the identity of its client for a dossier about the businessman.

Mr Justice Colm MacEochaidh, on the basis of his finding Mr O'Brien had not adduced enough facts to show "publication" of the dossier, also refused to order Red Flag discover documents in relation to publication of the dossier.

He noted his previous finding that the court had not heard the "full story" about the "mysterious appearance" of the dossier at Mr O'Brien's offices in October 2015 on a memory stick. He said he would not order discovery of documents in relation to publication because of the absence of pleaded material in relation to that issue.

Mr O'Brien's side had argued he was entitled to such evidence of publication "without which his case would fail". But if that were true, so too was every plaintiff who believes they have a good case "but lacks the evidence to prove it", the judge said.

If that were possible, litigants would "flood the courts with unsubstantiated writs".

The judge ruled Mr O'Brien was entitled to discovery of documents relating to communications between Red Flag and its client for the dossier. Those communications must concern the dossier only and the client's name could be redacted.

He was giving judgment on applications by Mr O'Brien's lawyers for documents as part of preparations for the full hearing of his case against Red Flag and various staff alleging defamation and conspiracy.

The businessman claims Red Flag was involved in preparing, for an unidentified client, a dossier of material about him which he alleges is mostly unfavourable. The dossier was on a USB stick sent anonymously to his offices in October 2015.

Red Flag, which denies defamation or conspiracy, previously confirmed the dossier included its documents, said there were significant issues concerning how Mr O'Brien got that material.

The matter has been adjourned to next month.

A spokesperson for Denis O'Brien said he intended to appeal the ruling.

Irish Independent

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