Albert Reynolds paid £500 for private eye file
Fergus Finlay intended to tell libel trial that former Taoiseach was 'irredeemably corrupt'
The late Albert Reynolds paid for a private detective to check out an individual who attended his defamation case again the Sunday Times, the Sunday Independent can reveal.
The former Taoiseach paid £500 in cash for information on the man whose attendance at the trial in 1996 was brought to his attention by the late Edward Haughey, the then wealthiest man in Northern Ireland, who died in a helicopter accident recently.
Dr Haughey, subsequently Lord Ballyedmond, had recounted a fantastic tale to Mr Reynolds to the effect that the 'establishment' in the UK had attempted to conspire to ensure Mr Reynolds would not win the case.
The jury decided by a majority of 10-1 the Sunday Times allegations, that Mr Reynolds had misled the Dail by withholding information, were untrue - but awarded him zero damages, later amended by the judge to 1p.
Later the Court of Appeal decided that the former Taoiseach should get a new trial, but the matter was settled out of court. The Sunday Independent can now reveal that Mr Reynolds subsequently retained the services of a private detective to check out the individual Dr Haughey had claimed was connected to the unionist tradition in Northern Ireland. The private detective's report was vague and inconclusive.
The Sunday Independent can also reveal that Fergus Finlay, an adviser to former Labour leader, Dick Spring, intended to give evidence at the trial that Mr Reynolds was "irredeemably corrupt."
Mr Finlay attended the trial for a day but was not called to give evidence.
However, this newspaper has seen his intended statement. Now the chief executive of the Barnardo's charity, Mr Finlay, failed to return a call last week.