Sunday 16 June 2019

Williams denies he was given a Garda file on McCabe sex claim

Journalist Paul Williams at the Disclosures Tribunal in Dublin Castle. Photo: Gareth Chaney
Journalist Paul Williams at the Disclosures Tribunal in Dublin Castle. Photo: Gareth Chaney
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

The journalist who interviewed the young woman who made a sexual assault allegation against Sgt Maurice McCabe has rejected suggestions he was given a Garda file on the case.

Irish Independent correspondent Paul Williams said he was aware of the suggestion but described it as being "completely baseless and false".

Appearing at the Disclosures Tribunal, Mr Williams also vehemently denied suggestions he was "too close" to Garda Headquarters.

He said he was never briefed by Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan, former commissioner Martin Callinan or former Garda press officer David Taylor in relation to rumours which circulated about Sgt McCabe.

Mr Williams said he was contacted directly by Ms D's father and told she wanted to speak to him. While he had been aware of "vague rumours" circulating about Sgt McCabe, he did not know what Ms D had alleged against him until he interviewed her in March 2014.

Mr Williams said he did not know where the rumours had come from.

Maurice McCabe and his wife Lorraine at the The Disclosures Tribunal in Dublin Castle. Photo: Gareth Chaney
Maurice McCabe and his wife Lorraine at the The Disclosures Tribunal in Dublin Castle. Photo: Gareth Chaney

Two articles were published in the Irish Independent the following month referring to an unnamed woman who believed her complaint of sexual assault against an unnamed garda had not been properly investigated.

The tribunal has previously heard how, as a teenager, Ms D complained to gardaí in 2006 that she had been molested by Sgt McCabe when she was aged six or seven during a game of hide and seek. The complaint was investigated but no prosecution was directed by the DPP.

The tribunal is investigating whether there was a conspiracy against Sgt McCabe and if the allegation was used by senior gardaí to smear him.

Mr Williams said Ms D was "upset" as media reports of Sgt McCabe's whistleblowing activity had "brought it all up again".

Supt David Taylor. Photo: Collins
Supt David Taylor. Photo: Collins

Under questioning from tribunal counsel Diarmaid McGuinness SC, Mr Williams said he did not consult with any senior gardaí before going to Ms D's family home.

Mr McGuinness said a suggestion might be made that Mr Williams in some way acted as "a puppet of the guards in participating, willingly or otherwise, in a smear campaign relating to Sgt McCabe".

Mr Williams replied: "I have read that extensively and that is absolutely false."

He said that about a week after the interview he contacted Supt Taylor by phone with a series of questions.

Michael McDowell at the The Disclosures Tribunal. Photo: Collins Photos
Michael McDowell at the The Disclosures Tribunal. Photo: Collins Photos

He wanted to know had an investigation taken place, what was the decision of the DPP, had there been an arrest and whether the investigation had been logged on Pulse.

The journalist said Supt Taylor went away to do some research and later came back to him to confirm an investigation took place, a file had been sent to the DPP and no charges were directed.

Mr Williams said there were a number of contacts with the superintendent in relation to his queries.

However, John Ferry BL, for Supt Taylor, said his client would be disputing this account of events.

He said Supt Taylor would say Mr Williams phoned him on the day he interviewed Ms D and told him he was at Ms D's house.

The barrister said his client would claim Mr Williams "did not ask Supt Taylor to confirm anything specific or to confirm or deny any facts in that call".

Mr Williams said he never called Supt Taylor that day and what the officer was alleging was "totally untrue".

Mr Ferry said Supt Taylor's evidence would be that he took a note of the conversation with Mr Williams and passed it on to then Commissioner Martin Callinan and his then Deputy Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan by text message.

Mr Williams confirmed he helped Ms D get in contact with Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, who was in possession of a dossier in relation to alleged failings in Garda investigations. He also confirmed he helped Ms D meet with Alan Shatter, after the Fine Gael TD had stepped down as justice minister. He denied suggestions by Michael McDowell SC that he had orchestrated events or put pressure on Mr Martin by mentioning a proposed meeting in an article.

Mr Williams said he had helped victims of crime or their families to secure meetings with politicians before if they wished to do so.

Mr McDowell read from a letter an official in the DPP's office had written giving reasons for not mounting a prosecution.

The letter said: "Even if there wasn't a doubt about her credibility, the incident that she describes does not constitute a sexual offence or indeed an assault."

Mr Williams said Supt Taylor had told him the DPP had found there was "insufficient evidence" and had not given any hint of the force and substance of the DPP's directions.

Irish Independent

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