Monday 23 July 2018

O'Brien seeks date for Red Flag court case

Independent News & Media shareholder Denis O’Brien. Photo: Bloomberg
Independent News & Media shareholder Denis O’Brien. Photo: Bloomberg

Tim Healy

Lawyers for businessman Denis O'Brien say he is continuing to suffer harm as a result of alleged defamation of him by the Red Flag Consulting firm.

Martin Hayden SC, for Mr O'Brien, told the High Court that because of that continuing harm, he was seeking a date as soon as possible to hear an application for disclosure of nine categories of documents for the businessman's full action against Red Flag.

Discovery of documents is "central" to the case, he said.

The court also may have to decide a dispute between the sides over access to the Dropbox account of a Red Flag employee, he added.

Adjourning the matter to next month for mention, Mr Justice Colm MacEochaidh said he would see what is in the discovery application and other legal documents before determining whether the matter is urgent.

There are hundreds of defamation actions before the courts and "screaming urgency" would have to be shown to allow this case get priority over others, he said.

Mr Hayden said the urgency arises because the harm to Mr O'Brien is continuing.

The judge said many plaintiffs in defamation actions make similar complaints and he would decide later if there was any element to justify this case getting priority over others.

Mr O'Brien initiated his proceedings last October, alleging conspiracy and defamation against Red Flag and some of its executives and employees. He claims a USB computer memory stick sent anonymously to his Dublin office contained a dossier of defamatory material.

The material mainly comprises media stories about Mr O'Brien and his business interests, plus documents entitled 'Who is Denis O'Brien?' and 'Moriarty Tribunal Explainer'.

The case has been before the court several times since, including on February 29 when the O'Brien side got more time to provide a sworn statement about custody of the USB stick.

Red Flag had raised concerns the USB stick was in the offices of Rotterdam-based Digitpol for some 10 days after the court ordered on October 16 it be handed over "forthwith" to solicitors for Mr O'Brien and held without interference pending further court orders.

Mr O'Brien's lawyers said there had been no access to, or interference with, the encrypted chamber of the USB stick containing the dossier and Digitpol had it for analysis purposes.

The case was adjourned to May 31.

Irish Independent

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