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Profile: Solicitor is former partner at 'magic circle' firm

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Robert Heron at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court

Robert Heron at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court

Robert Heron at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court

THE jury in the Anglo trial heard little of solicitor Robert Heron, a former equity partner in Matheson Ormsby Prentice, one of the country's so-called magic circle law firms.

This is because the jury was told that the issue of whether the bank obtained legal advice about loans of more than €600m to members of Sean Quinn's family – as well as 10 high-net-worth clients known as the Maple 10 – was irrelevant to the issues to be decided in the trial.

Mr Heron, one of a number of witnesses who gave evidence at a pre-trial deposition hearing, was not called to testify during the 11-week proceedings. But yesterday, Mr Heron was called to give evidence by the prosecution at the sentence hearing of two directors convicted of providing illegal loans to the Maple 10.

Senior counsel for the DPP, Paul O'Higgins, said that "never at a single time was there a word of written legal advice" in respect of the now illegal lending.

Mr Heron provided legal advice to Anglo in respect of a March 2008 agreement to unwind Mr Quinn's stake and later that July when the Maple transaction was executed.

The lawyer denied knowledge of who the Maple 10 were – or the terms of their lending – until months after the July 2008 deal.

Mr Heron confirmed he took part in a critical legal due diligence conference call on July 12, 2008, with investment bank Morgan Stanley and senior Anglo officials – but did not take notes and could not remember the conversations. He later provided a summary of his legal advice in a letter of July 22 at the request of the bank.

Last January, Mr Heron quit his law firm, which has changed its name to Matheson.

The sentencing hearing heard yesterday that Matheson has notified its insurers about their involvement in the transaction.

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