Monday 19 March 2018

'Progress' made in dispute over O'Brien access to company files

Denis O'Brien
Denis O'Brien

TIm Healy

Efforts are continuing to try and reach agreement about the extent of computer material that a consulting firm must provide for photographing by experts for businessman Denis O'Brien

At the High Court yesterday, Michael Cush SC for Mr O'Brien said they had made progress in relation to the material to be made available by Red Flag Consulting Ltd.

After being told some matters remained to be addressed, Mr Justice Colm MacEochaidh agreed, on consent of both sides, to adjourn the matter to Thursday.

Mr O'Brien wants his experts to photograph certain material in preparation for his action.

He alleges that Red Flag is involved in an alleged conspiracy to damage him personally and commercially, including concerning the recent planned IPO of his company, Digicel, which ultimately did not proceed.

Mr O'Brien claims the firm was engaged to compile and contribute to a dossier of mainly unfavourable material about him and he wants to inspect the Red Flag files to ascertain who is behind the alleged conspiracy.

His action over alleged defamation and conspiracy is against Red Flag and some of its directors and employees, including Red Flag CEO Karl Brophy, a former senior executive with Independent News & Media; and another Red Flag senior executive, Gavin O'Reilly, a former CEO of INM.

The businessman's lawyers last week complained the defendants breached an order made earlier this month allowing experts for both sides to carry out "forensic imaging" of computer files.


That process involves taking photographs of certain documents and storing them pending the court's decision as to whether Mr O'Brien is entitled to inspect the documents.

The court has fixed December 8 to hear Mr O'Brien's application to inspect the photographed material.

Red Flag denies defamation, conspiracy or any wrongdoing. Its lawyers told the court the dossier does contain material gathered by the firm and it is very concerned as to how that came into Mr O'Brien's possession.

Mr O'Brien's side alleged the Red Flag side was not complying fully with the forensic imaging order. They claimed they could not access material stored in the "cloud" to trace whether material has been deleted.

In denying any breach, the Red Flag side argued the order's terms provided only for limited access to the computers of those involved in creating, editing and reviewing the dossier documents.

Yesterday morning, Mr Cush said the issues between the sides relating to the forensic imaging process had narrowed but the other side needed to take instructions and he asked that the matter be adjourned to the afternoon.

When it returned before Mr Justice MacEochaidh later, Mr Cush said there were still some outstanding matters, including those relating to the imaging of Dropbox comments concerning media articles which featured in the dossier. The judge adjourned the matter until tomorrow to allow the remaining matters be addressed.

Irish Independent

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