Monday 23 April 2018

Shatter condemns inquiry into Garda whistleblower case as 'kangaroo court'

Former justice minister Alan Shatter. Photo: Caroline Quinn
Former justice minister Alan Shatter. Photo: Caroline Quinn
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Former justice minister Alan Shatter has claimed an inquiry which reviewed his handling of complaints by a Garda whistleblower was run in a similar fashion to a kangaroo court.

In a letter to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, the ex-TD asks that taxpayers stop funding a Supreme Court case taken by barrister Sean Guerin.

Mr Guerin is seeking to overturn a Court of Appeal ruling which found that Mr Shatter's constitutional rights were in jeopardy by reason of "seriously damaging" conclusions he was proposing to include in his report, and Mr Shatter should have been allowed to respond before the report was given to the Taoiseach, who later published it.

The 2014 Guerin Report was heavily critical of Mr Shatter's dealings with whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe. However, the O'Higgins Commission which followed in 2016 found he acted reasonably and took a personal interest in Sgt McCabe's complaints.

In a letter to Mr Varadkar, seen by the Irish Independent, Mr Shatter notes he was not interviewed by Mr Guerin during his inquiry.

"The reality with regard to our client is that the approach of Mr Guerin resembled that of a kangaroo court," a solicitor for Mr Shatter wrote on September 26. The letter adds that the former Dublin-Rathdown representative was "condemned unheard" and notes the Government has made "pronouncements lauding the importance of fair procedures".

The wording of the letter will seem all the more significant given the recent importance put on the issue of "due process" by Mr Varadkar while defending Frances Fitzgerald against accusations of wrongdoing in her handling of whistleblowers.

Mr Shatter's letter also says he has spent in excess of €200,000 on legal fees already in a bid to clear his name.

A spokesperson for the Taoiseach said Mr Guerin was given a standard indemnity against legal costs "as is normal practice for persons carrying out a role such as he did". "As the proceedings are ongoing, the indemnity continues to apply in accordance with its terms."

Irish Independent

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