Rory McIlroy deliberately "wiped clean" up to eight mobile phones despite the fact they may have contained important information relating to his legal action against his former sports management company, it was claimed yesterday.
This "factory resetting" of phones, which it is claimed was also done to devices of three other people in the case including McIlroy's father Gerry, seemed "incredible for a person in his position", senior counsel Paul Sreenan said.
Mr Sreenan was opening a High Court application by Dublin-based Horizon Sports Management and two other companies seeking orders for further disclosure of documents and inspection of the phones of McIlroy and others before the hearing of the golfer's legal action and the defendants' counter-claim.
Mr Sreenan said his clients had to bring the application because McIlroy had failed to respond to requests of disclosure of material on phones he owned between 2011 to 2014.
McIlroy (25), in an affidavit sworn in Palm Beach, Florida, on Monday night, said he has already provided a significant amount of detail for the case. He said he had not been advised that it was necessary to back up material before factory resetting his phones.
He used the iCloud storage system to transfer material, but reset the phones before changing them to preserve privacy.
McIlroy is suing Horizon, along with Gurteen Ltd, registered in Malta, and Canovan Management Services of Dublin, claiming a representation agreement signed by him in December 2011 is invalid and unenforceable.
The defendants have counter-claimed for $3m (€2.4m) allegedly outstanding under the agreement for off-course revenues.
Mr Sreenan said yesterday that the amount of lost commission to his clients is now estimated at $9m (€7.2m).
McIlroy says Horizon charged commission "many times greater" than is standard in sports management.
This agreement was entered into when he was 22, with little business expertise and without the benefit of legal advice, he says. The defendants say he freely entered the agreement.
Mr Sreenan said they were seeking to get the phones to have them forensically inspected.
McIlroy had given no satisfactory explanation for the destruction of electronic data on his devices, counsel said.
The defendants also seek material from phones held by Donal Casey, former Horizon consultant and now CEO of the golfer's own management company "Rory McIlroy Inc"; the golfer's personal assistant Sean O'Flaherty; and McIlroy's father.
The case continues before Mr Justice Raymond Fullam.