Friday 23 March 2018

Red Flag accuses O'Brien of 'fishing' expedition

Denis O'Brien Photo: Bloomberg
Denis O'Brien Photo: Bloomberg

Tim Healy

Red Flag Consulting has claimed that a court application by Denis O'Brien, seeking the disclosure of documents which would reveal the identity of a client who commissioned it to prepare a dossier on him, was a "fishing expedition".

Counsel for Red Flag told the High Court yesterday the application was "a pure fishing expedition" which ignored confidentiality.

After hearing a second day of submissions and legal argument, Mr Justice Colm Mac Eochaidh reserved his decision on the discovery application, but said he hoped to give his ruling by the end of this month.

Red Flag Consulting contends that it will suffer "irreparable harm" if it is ordered to disclose documents to Mr O'Brien, revealing the identity of the client who commissioned it to prepare the dossier.

It has also disputed claims on behalf of Mr O'Brien that if the client is a competitor of Mr O'Brien's or involved in "bitter" litigation involving Mr O'Brien, or involved in the planned Digicel initial share offering, then that was all highly relevant to the businessman's claims of conspiracy and that he was entitled to know the client's identity.

The relationship of confidentiality is crucial to Red Flag's business and it will suffer "irreparable harm" if that is breached, it has submitted.

The company has agreed to provide a range of documents, including concerning the circumstances of its retainer concerning the dossier, but argues that it is entitled to maintain the client's confidentiality.

Michael Collins SC, for Red Flag, said the discovery application was "a pure fishing expedition" to see what else is out there.

"It is an attempt to cast a net and pull it ashore with a flag on top saying 'motive'. It ignores confidentiality," he said.

Michael Cush SC, for Mr O'Brien, said the relevance of the client's identity was manifest. Counsel previously said his side wanted the client's identity, not just for his action against Red Flag, alleging it conspired to damage him, but because he also wanted to sue the client over alleged conspiracy.

Mr O'Brien claims that "unrelentingly negative" material in the dossier is defamatory and evidence of a conspiracy to damage him personally and professionally.

Red Flag has denied defamation and conspiracy and said Mr O'Brien has failed to establish evidence of publication of the dossier.

Irish Independent

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