Tuesday 24 October 2017

Alan Shatter: 'There was a conflict of interest in Guerin report'

Former Justice Minister Alan Shatter. CourtPix
Former Justice Minister Alan Shatter. CourtPix
Philip Ryan

Philip Ryan

FORMER Justice Minister Alan Shatter has said Sean Guerin should not have carried out his controversial report on garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe’s allegations of garda misconduct because of a conflict of interest.

Mr Shatter again used a debate in the Dail to criticise Mr Guerin’s report which ultimately led to his removal from Cabinet.

He was speaking during a debate on amendments to the Legal Services Bill minutes before Taoiseach Enda Kenny announced his Cabinet reshuffle.

Mr Shatter said the bill did not include a code of practice for barristers carrying public inquiries.

“I would expect it is complicit, where there is a conflict of interest, a barrister shouldn't take on instructions to take on an inquiry into any particular matter,” he said.

He said Mr Guerin was a member of the Bar Council’s Professional Practice Committee which was “resolutely opposed” to changes to the bill which he first introduced.

Among other aspects of the bill, Mr Shatter said the committee was against disciplinary proceedings being taken against barristers.

“My concern about all of that I suppose is that I find that a member of that professional practice committee should take it upon himself to pronounce judgement in the Guerin report, something that affected me personally,” he said.

Mr Shatter said he was surprised a barrister who opposed legislation he was trying to enact would be tasked with carrying out an investigation into him while he was Justice Minister.

“Even if there is no subjective bias, and I’m not suggesting there is, there is the appearance of bias and a conflict of interest of a nature I believe should have resulted in Mr Guerin concluding it was inappropriate that he take on that particular position,” he said.

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