Tuesday 24 October 2017

Lucinda Creighton’s elitist law will make people look stupid — lawyer

Lawyer warns Renua leader on 'elitist' crime crackdown

Lucinda Creighton TD
Lucinda Creighton TD
Philip Ryan

Philip Ryan

A barrister advising Lucinda Creighton's Renua party has described their policy on white collar crime as screaming elitism and implying that "normal people are too stupid to understand complicated crimes".

Renua launched the 'tackling white collar crime' policy document on Friday with a promise that justice would be administered "without fear or regard to money, wealth or power".

But in a briefing document, obtained by the Sunday Independent, barrister James Geoghegan described a Renua proposal to consider specialist juries for complex legal cases as an "elitist form of justice".

Mr Geoghegan warned that the policy contradicts Renua's "taking on the insiders" narrative and could be something the party would get "tripped up on".

UNDER FIRE: Creighton
UNDER FIRE: Creighton

"It says - normal people are too stupid to understand complicated crimes. I think the Anglo trial confounded those critics in my view," he added.

However, despite Mr Geoghegan strongly advocating for it to be removed from the party's first comprehensive policy document, the specialist juries proposal was included in the final version.

Renua is proposing the establishment of a reform commission that will examine the "desirability and feasibility" of specialist juries, along with other changes of the justice system.

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Mr Geoghegan's advice was similarly overlooked when he urged the party to remove a sentence from the draft document that stated: "we have no culture of whistleblowing in the financial and corporate sector in Ireland".

Mr Geoghegan warned: "Needless to say, we would be hit fairly hard for saying no whistleblowing exists given the Banking Inquiry, IBRC and recent justice scandals."

The party did listen to his advice on a proposal relating to the creation of a Special Corporate Criminal Court.

Renua initially proposed establishing a new court in which jurors are assisted by independent experts.

Mr Geoghegan argued that it was up to the defence and prosecution to provide expertise in court cases and for the jurors to decide the outcome based on this evidence.

The final draft of the policy document removed the sentence on independent experts for jurors and instead state that the new court would be "populated by judges with specific experience and expertise in commercial and corporate law".

A Renua spokesman said the specialist juries idea was included under the reform commission heading as it was a divisive issue among party members.

Read more: 'Jail reckless bankers' call from Renua

"We put it in that section to cover matters that are open for debate rather than positions of certainty. There were a number of contentious issues as there would be with the drafting of any policy document," he said.

He added: "With any policy document not everyone is 100pc pleased during the process but this indicates that this document was thought through carefully and not just drafted off the cuff."

On Friday, Ms Creighton unveiled the policy document which includes plans to introduce legislation that would see senior executives given ten year prison sentences for reckless trading.

She also plans to make executive and non-executive directors to sign off on company accounts confirming the firm was not involved in tax evasion or money laundering.

The party also proposed incentivising whistleblowers by giving them a percentage of any gains seized by law enforcement agencies on the back of tip offs.

Sunday Independent

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