Tuesday 25 September 2018

Smurfit must give evidence in K Club case, judge decides

Peter Curran, a former K-Club employee pictured at the Four Courts yesterday. Photo: Collins Courts
Peter Curran, a former K-Club employee pictured at the Four Courts yesterday. Photo: Collins Courts

Tim Healy

Millionaire businessman Dr Michael Smurfit will have to attend the High Court to give evidence in the case of a former K Club manager who has sued, alleging he was threatened at the Punchestown Races.

A subpoena was issued by the court yesterday requiring the businessman, who lives in Monaco, to attend the case.

It came on the fifth day of the action taken by former catering manager Peter Curran, who has sued Dr Smurfit along with the K Club resort and a resort superintendent, Gerry Byrne.

Mr Curran, of Cahirsiveen, Co Kerry, has claimed on May 7, 2011, his way was blocked in the toilets at the Punchestown Races and Mr Byrne allegedly said: "Dr Smurfit has not forgotten the statements about him and the call girls. Dr Smurfit knows where to find you and this is not over."

The defendants have denied all claims. Mr Justice Anthony Barr yesterday granted permission for a subpoena to be issued requiring Dr Smurfit to attend.

It followed an application by Mr Curran's counsel Kenneth Fogarty, who said Dr Smurfit was on the schedule of witnesses for the other side and they wanted to know if he was going to be giving evidence.

Dr Michael WJ Smurfit. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Dr Michael WJ Smurfit. Photo: Steve Humphreys

If Dr Smurfit was not to be called as a witness, counsel said his side intended to apply for a subpoena. Mr Justice Barr said Dr Smurfit being on the list of witnesses means there was a clear intention to have him as a witness, but that did not stop the Curran side from issuing a subpoena.

Mr Fogarty said Dr Smurfit lives outside Ireland and he asked that they be allowed serve the subpoena on the solicitors for Dr Smurfit and also at Dr Smurfit's Monaco address.

Rossa Fanning SC, for Dr Smurfit, said there were no legal authorities offered in relation to a person living outside the jurisdiction.

However, Mr Justice Barr was satisfied that once a party invokes the jurisdiction of the court as a defendant, he has made himself amenable to the court, notwithstanding that he lives abroad.

Mr Curran was also cross-examined by Gerard Danaher SC, for the K Club. He told counsel he did admire Dr Smurfit but then "saw another side to him".

He said that when you got into the inner circle you learn from Dr Smurfit, but you follow instructions.

He said that once during a European Open, then- columnist with the 'Sunday Independent, Shane Ross wrote an article in which he intimated Dr Smurfit should retire.

Mr Curran said he was told by Dr Smurfit to take away copies of the newspaper from the K Club.

"Dr Smurfit gives instructions, you carry them out and if you don't you get fired," he said.

He said Dr Smurfit had asked him for "severe loyalty" on one occasion while he allegedly "squeezed my arm".

Mr Curran also said that after he was dismissed he had been escorted off the K Club premises by two men, who he claimed were former British army personnel, including one who was a former SAS officer.

He was catering manager at the K Club between September 1997 and October 1998, when he claims he was forced to leave and later brought an unfair dismissal case which was settled in March 1999.

Mr Curran later brought High Court proceedings claiming, among other things, breach of his right to earn a livelihood.

During the run-up to that case, in replies to written questions and particulars relating to alleged financial irregularities at the K Club, Mr Curran made reference to call girls, sometimes sourced abroad, who were given free use of the facilities.

The case continues.

Irish Independent

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