Chawke wins legal
 challenge over his 'dig out' evidence

By Tim Healy

PUBLICAN Charlie Chawke has won a legal challenge to the Planning Tribunal's finding in his evidence about a "dig out" for former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern.

However, the High Court rejected a separate but similar challenge over non-cooperation by former Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown councillor Tony Fox who was found to have given false evidence.

Both Mr Chawke and Mr Fox challenged "non-cooperation" findings which meant there were consequences for any legal costs orders against them by the tribunal.

Mr Chawke was mainly concerned the finding had seriously damaged his reputation. The tribunal denied the claims.

Yesterday, Ms Justice Marie Baker ruled the "deductive reasoning" process under which the tribunal found Mr Chawke was a non-cooperating witness was not arrived at by affording him fair procedures.


The judge said Mr Chawke's evidence to the tribunal was, broadly, that he had lent IR£2,500 to Mr Ahern to assist the former Taoiseach in defraying legal bills and that loan was repaid.

It was claimed to be part of a larger sum of IR£22,500 contributed by ten individuals, including Mr Chawke.

In its final report of March 22, 2012, the tribunal found no payment had in fact been made to Mr Ahern and it "expressly rejected" Mr Chawke's evidence and that of other witnesses that these payments had been made and repaid, the judge said.

The tribunal said it would award Mr Chawke 30pc of his costs, to reflect his co-operation in correspondence with the tribunal before he gave evidence, the judge said.

She said Mr Chawke received a bill from his solicitor for costs of €6,396, which it was accepted was a relatively small sum.

Mr Chawke claimed he was never given an opportunity to address the tribunal's conclusion that his evidence in relation to the money was false - before the tribunal issued its final report and findings.

Ms Justice Baker said the tribunal made efforts to appear to give Mr Chawke an opportunity to address it with regard to its findings but it (tribunal) had "no real choice" in the conclusion it came to once it had already decided it disbelieved him.

In relation to the Tony Fox case, the judge said that 
unlike Mr Chawke, Mr Fox was not a mere witness but was identified as someone who received monies to vote for rezoning.

Mr Fox denied receiving payments for rezoning votes.