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Ex-FAI CEO John Delaney rejects ODCE claims of conduct that would paralyse watchdog's investigative powers

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Former FAI Chief Executive John Delaney. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Former FAI Chief Executive John Delaney. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

Former FAI Chief Executive John Delaney. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Former FAI CEO John Delaney has rejected claims by the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) of engaging in conduct that would paralyse the watchdog's investigative powers.

In a sworn statement, Mr Delaney said he needs extra time to examine thousands of files, including the contents of his emails.

He says he needs to do this so he can set out what he claims are covered by legal professional privilege, and therefore cannot be used by the ODCE as part of its criminal investigation into the FAI.

The High Court was due later this month to make a determination on whether some of the files are covered by legal privilege and cannot be used by the ODCE.

However arising out of Mr Delaney’s application for extra time that application is not proceeding and the matter will next be mentioned before the courts in September.

He also said that he had gone to work in the UK, where he lives in a "modest" shared two bedroom apartment near his place of work, to provide for his family.

He said “since March 2019 over 1,000 media articles have been written in relation to me which had a huge negative impact on me and my family”.

He said he had hoped to return to Ireland to inspect the documents, but due to Covid-19 travel restrictions and the demands of his work, Mr Delaney said he made arrangements for his solicitor Aidan Eames to inspect them.

He rejected the ODCE’s suggestion that he had ignored a direction to return to Ireland to personally inspect the seized items.

The files consist of 13 hard copy documents and a digital device containing 270,000 separate files including the former CEO’s emails.

They were seized from the FAI’s offices at Abbotstown on foot of a search warrant last February.

An agreed plan was put in place to allow Mr Delaney examine the files to see which ones are private to him or covered by professional legal privilege.

It was envisaged that the inspection would be completed before the end of July.

However Mr Delaney, who is a notice party to the action, asked for additional time to examine the files due to the large number of files involved.

That application was opposed by the ODCE. Mr Delaney said the ODCE was seeking to “complicate” what is “a relatively simple exercise”.

It had no objections to his request to involve an IT forensic expert. However the ODCE said it had put in place a system, with sufficient facilities software and expertise that balances the rights and obligations of all parties and made the timetable entirely achievable.

Ms Justice Leonie Reynolds had directed Mr Delaney produce an affidavit setting out his co-operation with the inspection process to date.

In it, he denied trying to delay the process.

Mr Delaney said that he did not know how many documents would need to be inspected.

He said he was concerned that his rights may be infringed if he and his lawyers are not given enough time to inspect the documentation and the amount of time allotted to examine the files he said was “surprising and disquieting.”

Ms Justice Reynolds said the court was anxious that the matter proceeds as soon as possible.

She directed Mr Delaney’s lawyers to furnish the ODCE with the number of documents he says are covered by professional legal privilege and a schedule listing those documents by early September.

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