Saturday 25 November 2017

Publication of Lowry’s handwritten note to Taoiseach ‘prejudicial’ ahead of tax trial, court told

Michael Lowry
Michael Lowry

FORMER Fine Gael Minister Michael Lowry has made a formal complaint about how a note he sent to Taoiseach Enda Kenny came into the public domain, the High Court heard.

The contents of the handwritten note, asking Mr Kenny to consider reappointing former PR adviser to Mr Lowry, Valerie O’Reilly, to the board of the National Transport Authority was published in the Sunday Independent  last month.

The note recommended her because she was bright and intelligent "and not bad looking either",

Today his counsel Patrick Treacy said the manner in which the note made its way into the public domain, in advance of  Deputy Lowry's trial on alleged tax offences, is prejudicial to his client.

The circumstances of how "individuals in Dail Eireann" provided the newspaper with the note is now the subject of a formal complaint by the now Independent Tipperary TD to the Dail's Committee on Procedures and Privileges, counsel said.

Mr Treacy was addressing the court as part of Mr Lowry's application for permission to bring a  challenge aimed at preventing his trial before Dublin Circuit Court on alleged tax offences. 

Mr Lowry is facing four charges that he allegedly filed incorrect tax returns in 2003 and 2007. His trial was transferred from Co Tipperary to Dublin on the application of the DPP based on the amount of people who have voted for Mr Lowry in elections in Tipperary.

The TD claims his prosecution is extraordinary because it concerns a payment Mr Lowry had both declared and paid.

Mr Lowry (60), Glenreigh, Holycross, Co Tipperary, says he has no outstanding tax liability and is being treated unfairly and selectively in circumstances where it has not been sought to prosecute others, including some 145 holders of Ansbacher accounts said to have a liability.

He also contends he is entitled to prohibition orders on grounds of alleged prejudicial publicity and alleged wrongful release of taxpayer information into the public domain.

The trial should at least be deferred pending his appeal to a Revenue Appeals Commissioner, due for hearing in March, and the outcome of an investigation of his complaint over how details of a search of his home was disclosed to the media when, it is argued, that was potentially an offence under tax legislation.

Among the grounds for judicial review it is alleged there has been an wrongful manipulation of the criminal justice process and Mr Lowry's right to a fair trial has been breached.

Another ground of his case relates to the transfer Mr Lowry's trial to Dublin Circuit Criminal Court rather than permit it be heard in Tipperary. This it is claimed breaches his rights and amounts to his being punished for to his success as a politician in Tipperary.

The TD's application for permission to bring the action came before Mr Justice Seamus Noonan on Monday who directed it should be heard on notice to the intended respondents, including the DPP.

Remy Farrell SC, for the DPP, said Wednesday his client would not oppose Mr Lowry's application for permission to bring the challenge. The DPP would make its submissions at the full hearing of Mr Lowry's proceedings.

Mr Farrell said Mr Lowry's trial is listed for mention before Dublin Circuit Criminal Court on Friday, however he said the case is not likely to be heard until late 2015, or early 2016.

Counsel said the DPP was opposed to any request by Mr Lowry to be excused from attending court. He would have to appear in court as required the same as any other person, counsel added.

Mr Justice Noonan adjourned the matter to tomorrow.

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