Sunday 18 August 2019

Red Flag 'had client for O'Brien dossier'

Karl Brophy
Karl Brophy

Tim Healy

The Red Flag consulting firm being sued by Denis O'Brien has confirmed that it had a client for a dossier of material relating to the businessman which he alleges is part of a conspiracy to damage him, the High Court has heard.

A draft speech of Fianna Fáil TD Colm Keaveney, which was included in a dossier of material sent last month to Mr O'Brien, was not commissioned by a client, the court was also told.

Maurice Collins SC, for Red Flag, said the Keaveney speech was "provided to us to look at it, effectively on an informal basis".

He added that while Red Flag CEO Karl Brophy and chairman Séamus Conboy had edited some aspects of that speech, the fact was that all their suggested changes were, for reasons "unknown", rejected by Mr Keaveney.

Counsel was responding to earlier remarks by Michael Cush SC, for Mr O'Brien, that the Keaveney draft speech was commissioned by a client.

Mr Cush said his side contended that Red Flag was involved in putting words and phrases into the speech which was envisaged as then being delivered under privilege in the Dáil and which were "hugely condemnatory" of Mr O'Brien.

Mr Keaveney had publicly said he did not use that material and the speech delivered by him was his own, counsel said. That was "a separate debate to be had", counsel added.

Mr Justice Colm MacEochaidh yesterday refused an application by two employees of Red Flag - account manager Brid Murphy and account executive Kevin Hiney - for a stay on orders requiring them to hand over their personal devices, used for work, for forensic imaging. They sought the stay pending an appeal against the imaging orders.

They argue that the orders involved a "gross invasion" of their privacy, as the devices at issue contain much personal material, including text messages, emails, financial and medical information.

Refusing the stay, the judge said it would effectively amount to unwinding the imaging orders carefully made by him on November 2. The orders he made tried to balance the defendants' rights to privacy with Mr O'Brien's right to orders protecting his litigation, he said.

They also provide for a "limited" invasion of privacy and Mr O'Brien will not see anything of the material unless the court decides so in the future, he said.

The orders require the two, along with Red Flag CEO Karl Brophy, chairman Séamus Conboy and non-executive director Gavin O'Reilly and others to hand over devices for forensic imaging of the material on them. The material will be stored by an independent solicitor and cannot be inspected by Mr O'Brien's side unless the court grants his inspection application at a hearing on December 8.

Irish Independent

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