Tuesday 16 July 2019

Investigation into councillor over alleged ethics breaches adjourned pending High Court challenge

PROBE: Fine Gael Councillor Hugh McElvaney
PROBE: Fine Gael Councillor Hugh McElvaney
Laura Larkin

Laura Larkin

A SIPO investigation into a county councillor in relation to alleged ethics breaches has been adjourned for four weeks to allow his lawyers to take a High Court challenge.

Hugh McElvaney is one of three councillors who was filmed as part of an RTÉ Investigates programme which saw a representative of a fictitious wind farm meet with local reps.

In a video of the meeting shown on the programme Mr McElvaney appears to solicit money in exchange for his assistance. He appears to ask that a £10,000 sterling payment be made to him.

A subsequent investigation by Monaghan County Council led to a complaint being made to the Standards In Public Office Commission (SIPO).

Mr McElvaney faces multiple counts of breaching ethics legislation relating to his role as an elected representative. 

His legal team argued ahead of the hearing that it should not go ahead as Mr McElvaney could not get a fair hearing due to the absence of the undercover reporter who is anonymous and known as Nina Carlsson.

He also referred to a previous letter submitted on his client’s behalf to SIPO in which he claimed that the broadcast was distorted and that a “spin” was put on it.

His client, he said, maintains that he did nothing wrong.

Mr Breffni Gordon BL, claimed that his client was subject to a “reprehensible” entrapment  and was "skewered” in the public eye when the programme aired.

The Commission had rejected Mr McElvaney’s application to stop the proceedings and subsequently Mr Gordon informed the Commission that he had been instructed by his client that he will take no further part in the proceedings.

He asked that the proceedings be postponed to allow an application to be made to the High Court to seek legal clarity on the matter.

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